Crime and Courts
Chief investigative reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.

NYPD Surgeon: Officer Didn’t Use Chokehold on Eric Garner

Eric 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

What to Know

  • The NYPD’s chief surgeon ruled that the officer accused in Eric Garner’s death did not put him in a chokehold, the officer's attorney said
  • Daniel Pantaleo, who is charged in Garner's July 2014 death on Staten Island, faces a disciplinary trial in May
  • The CCRB tried unsuccessfully to get the surgeon's report tossed from the case, saying he drew his conclusion from video tape

The NYPD’s chief surgeon ruled that the officer accused in Eric Garner’s death did not put him in a chokehold, the officer’s attorney said.

Daniel Pantaleo, who is charged with reckless use of a chokehold and intentional use of a chokehold in Garner’s July 2014 death on Staten Island, faces a disciplinary trial in May.

At a pre-trial hearing Thursday, Pantaleo’s lawyer Stuart London said an internal report from the NYPD’s chief surgeon Eli Kleinman in 2014 found Pantaleo’s action wasn’t a chokehold, and that Garner most likely died because of an underlying heart condition.

The report "indicated there was no misconduct at all," London maintained.

The Medical Examiner determined Garner’s death was a homicide, but the autopsy also noted that Garner’s underlying health conditions were contributing factors in his death.

The Civilian Complaint Review Board, which is acting as prosecutor at the upcoming trial, tried to get surgeon’s report tossed from the case, saying the doctor drew his conclusion from video tape, not forensic evidence. That request was denied.

On Thursday, Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, called the defense’s argument “one of their trickery things that they’re going to do.”

“We know they’re going to be throwing fire at us… even though the lawyer knows it’s wrong,” she said.

Carr said she was also upset about what she called a lack of action from Mayor Bill de Blasio, who declined to comment on the matter on Thursday.

“I’m trying to get all the officers who were involved in my son’s death that day to stand accountable and to be fired,” she said. “[De Blasio is] not saying anything. He should have fired the police officers five years ago.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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