Disciplinary Process in Eric Garner Case to Begin Within Days: NYPD

Police watchdog says it has "commenced the process of filing charges"

What to Know

  • The NYPD will immediately begin the disciplinary process of 2 police officers in connection to the Eric Garner case, officials said Thursday
  • The proceedings against officer Daniel Pantaleo and Sgt. Kizzy Adonis will commence in the coming days
  • Garner was killed in a confrontation with NYPD officers in 2014; His dying words, "I can't breathe," became a slogan for Black Lives Matter

The NYPD will immediately begin the disciplinary process of two police officers in connection to the Eric Garner case, authorities announced Thursday.

A police department spokesman said that officer Daniel Pantaleo and Sgt. Kizzy Adonis will face the disciplinary proceedings after the U.S. Department of Justice officially confirmed Wednesday to the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Legal Matters Larry Byrne there was no objection to moving forward.

The proceedings will commence in the coming days.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said he didn't know why it took the Department of Justice four years to make a decision regarding the disciplinary process.

"I think every New Yorker is relieved that we can finally try and get some closure here," de Blasio said, adding that "it was a horrible tragedy in this city that no one felt more than Garner's family and this hasn't been speedy justice."

The Administrative Prosecution Unit (APU) of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, a police watchdog, will prosecute the case regarding Pantaleo, while the NYPD Department Advocate will prosecute Adonis.

“The APU has been ready to prosecute Officer Pantaleo, and we have commenced the process of filing charges,” CCRB Chair Fred Davie said in a statement Thursday.

A lawyer for Pantaleo, who's been on paid desk duty, said in a statement, "We are looking forward to our day in court to be vindicated." 

Four years after Eric Garner died by chokehold by an NYPD officer, his family is calling for accountability and demanding immediate action and transparency. Jummy Olabanji reports.

The NYPD announced on Monday, on the eve of the four-year anniversary of Eric Garner’s killing, that it would allow disciplinary proceedings to go forward against a patrolman accused in the notorious chokehold death of an unarmed black man, saying it's run out of patience with federal authorities’ indecision about whether to bring a criminal case.

A pointed letter from the NYPD's top lawyer informed the U.S. Department of Justice of an administrative case that could result in dismissal for Pantaleo because "there is no end in sight" to the federal probe.

Typically, the department waits for federal prosecutors to conclude civil rights violations inquiries before taking action. But other probes have taken far less time than the case of a victim whose dying words, "I can't breathe," became a slogan for the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Garner’s family, who received $5.9 million from the city in 2015 to settle a wrongful death claim, and police reform activists previously expressed deep frustration over the inaction by federal authorities and the NYPD after a state probe ended without criminal charges.

In a statement Thursday, Gwen Carr, Garner's mother, said: “We want them to move forward expeditiously. But we have just been left hanging – and we got the sense that nothing was happening. We want all six police officers involved in my son’s murder to be held accountable.”

The 43-year-old Garner, who was accused of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, was stopped by police on Staten Island on July 17, 2014, and refused to be handcuffed. Pantaleo is seen on a widely watched cell phone video putting Garner in an apparent chokehold, which is banned under NYPD policy.

The heavyset victim, who had asthma, is heard gasping, "I can't breathe." He was pronounced dead at a hospital. The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide caused in part by the chokehold.

Garner's death sparked angry protests about the treatment of black men and boys at the hands of white police officers.

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