5 Years After Eric Garner's Chokehold Death, NYPD Cop Goes on Trial

by | May 13, 2019 AT 7:34 AM
Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, protesting outside a police station in New York.
Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, protesting outside a police station in New York. (TNS/New York Daily News/Rocco Parascandola)

By Alison Fox

The departmental trial for NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, whose apparent chokehold killed Eric Garner in 2014, is expected to start on Monday.

Following the internal disciplinary proceedings -- presided over by Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado -- Police Commissioner James O'Neill will ultimately have discretion over whether Pantaleo is fired, handed down a lesser disciplinary action or receives no disciplinary action at all.

Garner was killed July 17, 2014, as police in Staten Island tried to arrest him for selling loose cigarettes. His death was captured on video, and his dying words of "I can't breathe" became a rallying cry for many. His death, as well as other high-profile police-involved deaths, also became the catalyst for Gov. Andrew Cuomo signing an executive order in July 2015 that gave the attorney general the ability to take over cases in which an unarmed civilian is killed by a law enforcement officer.

The NYPD had previously deferred taking any disciplinary action in the case until federal prosecutors in both Brooklyn and Washington, D.C., decided whether they would bring a criminal case over his death. In December 2014, a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict any officers involved in Garner's death.

On Friday, Fred Davie, the chair of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which will be prosecuting Pantaleo in the departmental trial, said the officer's motion to have the charges against him dismissed was declined.

"On Monday morning, the CCRB's Administrative Prosecution Unit will begin presenting its evidence," Davie said in a statement. "We are confident that, once all the evidence has been presented, the Police Commissioner will find Officer Pantaleo guilty of misconduct and ultimately terminate him from the Department."

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