What to Know
- Officer Daniel Pantaleo faces departmental charges of reckless assault and compression to the neck in the Eric Garner case, sources said
- The NYPD is proceeding with disciplinary proceedings nearly four years after Garner died, despite lack of federal action
- 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 police officer seen putting Eric Garner in an apparent chokehold, a move that the medical examiner said contributed to his death, faces departmental charges of reckless assault and compression to the neck, multiple sources briefed on the case told News 4 Thursday.
Frustrated by federal authorities' indecision about whether to bring criminal charges against officer Daniel Pantaleo in the case, the NYPD announced last week that it would allow disciplinary proceedings to go forward against the cop. The announcement came nearly four years after Garner died, his last gasping breaths of "I can't breathe" heard across the country.
It's not exactly clear when the departmental trial against Pantaleo will begin. A pointed letter from the NYPD's top lawyer last week informed the U.S. Department of Justice of the administrative case, which could result in dismissal for Pantaleo, because "there is no end in sight" to the federal probe.
The Administrative Prosecution Unit (APU) of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, a police watchdog, will prosecute the case against Pantaleo.
A lawyer for Pantaleo, who's been on paid desk duty, previously said in a statement, "We are looking forward to our day in court to be vindicated."
Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, met with the CCRB Thursday. She said she's still not satisfied with the response of top city officials after four years of delay in the departmental trial of Pantaleo.
"I blame the mayor, the NYPD. They're the ones who held all the cards," she said, one day after pressing Mayor de Blasio at a town hall to fire all the police and paramedics seen on video tending to her son. De Blasio responded to Carr, "I wish from the bottom of my heart your son was still here. I'm so sorry he is not."
He said he hoped Carr takes some solace from new training the NYPD has given to more than 30,000 officers.
"A lot of change started very, very soon after that tragedy," he said. "Retraining of police officers has had a big impact already in New York City. I told her, and I believe it, he did not die in vain."
NYPD Deputy Commissioner Kevin Richardson said Thursday, "The actions of every officer on scene were evaluated. One sergeant did not take some steps she should have taken. And the other resulted in the CCRB charges against officer Pantaleo."
Garner, 43, was accused of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes when he was stopped by police on Staten Island on July 17, 2014, and refused to be handcuffed. Pantaleo is seen on a widely watched cellphone video putting Garner in an apparent chokehold, which is banned under NYPD policy.
The heavyset victim, who had asthma, is heard on that video 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 national protests about the treatment of black men and boys at the hands of white police officers.
Garner’s family received $5.9 million from the city in 2015 to settle a wrongful death claim. A state probe ended without criminal charges.