New York City's police commissioner has fired a police officer involved in the 2014 death of Eric Garner. Police Commissioner James O'Neill made the announcement Monday afternoon.

O'Neill had been deliberating whether to accept a disciplinary judge's recommendation that Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who is white, be fired for using a banned chokehold on Garner, an African American man who was unarmed. Garner's dying words of "I can't breathe" became a flash point in a national debate over race and police use of force.

Garner's death came at a time of a growing public outcry over police killings of unarmed black men that sparked the national Black Lives Matter movement.

Just weeks later, protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, over the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. And later in 2014, a man angry about the Garner and Brown cases shot two New York City police officers to death in their cruiser in retribution. 

Speaking Monday, community activists who have long called on city leaders to fire Pantaleo said the decision was five years overdue. Garner's mother Gwen Carr, who has led a grassroots movement of advocates seeking justice in her son's death, addressed the officer directly, saying: "Pantaleo, you may have lost your job, but I lost a son."