Staten Island

‘Too Long': Eric Garner's Mother, Activists and Neighborhood React to NYPD Commissioner Firing Cop in Chokehold Case

What to Know

  • Eric Garner’s friends say NYPD commissioner’s decision Monday to fire the cop accused of using a banned chokehold on him felt personal
  • People who live in area, however, were quick to note officer’s removal did not ease frustrations about how long it took to get the ruling
  • Eric Garner's mother Gwen Carr asked for other cops involved in the Garner case to also be held accountable

Following NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill's decision to fire the officer involved in Eric Garner's death, his mother, Gwen Carr, stood outside One Police Plaza in Manhattan Monday afternoon and said the fight is not over.

"I am not stopping this fight," she said, adding that officer Daniel Pantaleo can appeal the ruling, but she is not giving up the fight.

"You lost your job, but I lost my son," Carr said.

Carr, as well as community activists present, are also asking for other officers involved in the Garner incident to be held accountable.

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who was also present at Carr's press conference, said he understands the decision did not come easy for O'Neill and thanked him for his decision. However, they are still frustrated by the amount of time it took to get to a decision.

"We want to have better community-police relationships," he said.

"We are not anti-police. Being for police accountability is not mutually exclusive with supporting our men and women on the NYPD. It just is not," Williams said.

Monday’s ruling was lauded by advocates and local leaders, but blasted by the head of the police union and Pantaleo’s attorney who vowed to appeal the decision.

Garner's daughter, Emerald Snipes Garner, shared similar sentiments to Carr earlier in the day -- also thanking O'Neill for his decision to fire Pantaleo, but saying the fight for justice has not ended.

"Commissioner O'Neill, I thank you for doing the right thing. I truly and sincerely thank you for firing the officer," she said, adding he "finally made a decision that should have been made five years ago."

"Yes, he is fired, but the fight is not over," Snipes Garner went on to say.

As candles and signs mark the spot where the tragic event unfolded on Staten Island five years ago, Garner’s friends say the NYPD’s decision to fire the police officer accused of using a banned chokehold on him felt personal.

Community residents Jordache Vargas and Alexa Coppa were near the scene of of the 2014 incident.

“It was a tragedy. You could clearly hear him saying he couldn’t breathe and no one listened,”  Coppa said.

Meanwhile, Garner’s friends say not a day passes that they don’t think about what was lost on this street corner five years ago. Vargas said that Garner continues to be in the minds of many.

“He’s family to everybody. Not just me,” Vargas said.

They called the chokehold that cost their friend his life unacceptable and appreciate O’Neill's decision to fire Pantaleo.

That move brought some relief to the block that for years was a flashpoint for anger.

"I saw what happened on the video. I can't believe that -- of course they should fire him," Danielle Apollaro, of Staten Island, said. 

People who live in the area, however, were quick to note that the officer’s removal did not ease frustrations about how long it took to get to this point.

“It kind of took a long time. A little too long for something to happen. Any thing else they would have been on top of that. Man this cop killed his guy and five years later now we can fire you,” resident Rasheed Lindsey said.

Looking ahead the community wants healing, but are left wondering what it will take to get them there.

“To each police officer who is out there: do your job the right way. You are here to serve and protect not to kill the people,” Vargas said.

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