The police officer cleared by a Staten Island grand jury in the chokehold death of Eric Garner has been questioned by the NYPD bureau investigating whether department policy was violated in the case, the officer's attorney said.
Internal Affairs Bureau investigators questioned officer Daniel Pantaleo about Garner's death for about two hours Tuesday, his attorney Stuart London told NBC 4 New York.
The interview comes one week after a grand jury decided not to indict the officer on criminal charges in Garner's death. The deliberative body delivered a vote of "no true bill," which determined there was not probable cause that a crime of criminally negligent homicide or manslaughter -- the two charges NBC 4 New York was told the jury was given to consider — was committed by Pantaleo.
The officer was seen on widely-watched amateur video wrapping his arm around Garner's neck as the heavyset, asthmatic 43-year-old yelled, "I can't breathe!", nearly a dozen times while gasping for air during the July 17 confrontation in Tompkinsville.
The decision outraged many across the country, as thousands of protesters took to the street in New York City and elsewhere chanting Garner's last words, picketing on busy streets and staging "die-ins" in stores and transit hubs. Protesters are planning to march to One Police Plaza Wednesday to mark the one-week anniversary of the grand jury decision.
London has said the videotaped confrontation doesn't show the full conversation between officers and Garner, who was being arrested for allegedly selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. The Patrolmen's Patrolmen's Association, the union that represents NYPD officers, has also defended Pantaleo, calling him "literally an Eagle Scout."
Mayor de Blasio said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday that the department’s probe could take more than three or four months to reach a conclusion. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the department will likely conclude its investigation in March or April.
The federal Justice Department also launched a civil rights investigation in the case.
Pantaleo has been on desk duty since Garner’s death.
Wednesday, New York City Council announced it was asking its Inspector General to investigate how the NYPD tracks, monitors and addresses abusive police conduct.
The city's Civilian Complaint Review Board will also create community outreach offices across the city so New Yorkers can file complaints about police conduct.
"The city council will be taking a comprehensive look at the steps we can take to find a positive outcome from the tragic events which led to the death of Eric Garner,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “This is why we are formally requesting the Inspector General look into how the NYPD tracks abusive conduct and why we will be creating CCRB outreach offices across the City. The overwhelming majority of NYPD officers serve honorably and with great distinction every day and these reforms are about ensuring the actions of a few don’t malign the whole."
PBA President Pat Lynch Tuesday issued a statement lambasting the city council's decisions, saying "civilian complaints are nowt worth they'e written on."
"Frankly, I am disgusted with the double talk coming out of this city council," Lynch said. "They praise police with words and then take actions that clearly demonstrate their true lack of support for the very people who protect them and make their communities safe."