Eric Garner finally got justice-lite 5 years after his life was unjustly taken from him, his mother, his wife, his 3 children, and his 3 grandchildren. Daniel Pantaleo, the New York Police Officer whose choke hold killed him, finally after a 5 year emotionally painful wait was fired from the New York Police.
Eric Garner got justice-lite because Pantaleo was only fired from the Police Force but not charged with the crime of murder for choking him to death. In 2014 a Staten Island grand jury refused to indict Pantaleo for murdering Eric Garner, and last month the U.S. Dept. of Justice announced it would not file civil rights charges against Pantaleo for the fatal choke hold to Eric Garner.
The Eric Garner decision made by New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill to fire Pantaleo brings relief to New York and the Garner family, it also has a very disturbing element to it. Commissioner O’Neill gave a word lengthy retelling of the details of the tragic case expressing his deep anguish over the decision he was forced to make. The fact that he felt deep anguish over having to fire a cop who killed an unarmed person for selling loose cigarettes is disturbing.
It gets more disturbing when one considers the fact that an internal police department trial with his own Deputy Police Commissioner serving as the Judge determined Pantaleo’s guilt. In a 47-page decision, Deputy Police Commissioner Judge Rosemarie Maldonado found that former Officer Pantaleo had used excessive force and was reckless when he applied a choke hold to Eric Garner, Ms. Maldonado also determined that Pantaleo was aware of the risk of using a choke hold and knew he was not supposed to use it. She wrote Officer Pantaleo’s use of a choke hold “fell so far short of objective reasonableness that this tribunal found it to be reckless, a gross deviation from the standard of conduct established for a New York City police officer.”
In addition to applying the reckless choke hold on Eric Garner, the judge said he lied about using the choke hold to investigators reviewing circumstances surrounding the murder. The judge said Pantaleo’s repeated denials about using the choke hold were “both implausible and self-serving” after reviewing the video of the incident. After making her decision Maldonado forwarded it to First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker, the department’s second in command. Tucker agreed with the ruling to fire Pantaleo and sent his recommendation along with the ruling to the first in command Commissioner O’Neill.
The most disturbing moment of Commissioner O’Neill’s declaration of his Eric Garner decision was when he said: “I served for nearly 34 years as a uniformed New York City cop before becoming police commissioner, I can tell you that, had I been in Officer Pantaleo’s situation, I may have made similar mistakes.” He then went on to say: “If I were still a cop, I would be mad at me,” remarking on his decision to fire Pantaleo for murdering Eric Garner!
So, in other words, the leader of New York’s Police would use a death choke hold, which New York police are not trained to use and whose use is prohibited by police operating procedures, on an unarmed man selling loose cigarettes. To add insult to this disturbing revelation, he would be mad about a cop being fired for using a prohibited procedure which resulted in murder and then lied about using it to investigators investigating the wrongful death.
This is not only disturbing but frightening because Commissioner O’Neill is the leader of the police tasked with providing both legal and moral guidance. What he thinks and how he operates communicates a message to the police officers serving under him. If having deep anxiety over firing a rogue cop who used an unauthorized choke hold that resulted in killing an unarmed person, then lying about it to investigators is the standard Commissioner O’Neill sets for New York police officers to operate under, not only do black lives not matter no New York lives, black or white, matter!!!
Isaac Newton Farris Jr. is the nephew of Martin Luther King, Jr. and serves as Senior Fellow at the King Center. Growing up in one of the most socially and politically active families has given him a unique perspective on current events. Drop by his website for straight talk free of one-sided political spin.
Originally published at https://isaacnewtonfarris.com on August 21, 2019.