The New York police officer who choked Eric Garner in 2014 has been formally served with departmental charges, an NYPD spokesman said Saturday.
Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who wrapped his arm around Garner’s neck before the man complained he couldn’t breathe, was served with the charges Friday night, according to city officials.
Pantaleo is seen in video from the scene tackling Garner from behind using a department-banned chokehold. He now faces two separate charges – for use of a chokehold and for restricting the man’s breathing, said an NYPD official with knowledge of the investigation.
An asthmatic, Garner was later pronounced dead. His death, which became emblematic of long-standing tensions between police and minority communities, was ruled a homicide.
Pantaleo, who has remained on the NYPD payroll, faces punishment ranging from loss of vacation days to termination, officials said.
Stuart London, Pantaleo’s attorney, declined comment Saturday. He said his client was “looking forward to being vindicated” after the NYPD confirmed Thursday that it was initiating the disciplinary process.
Another officer, Sgt. Kizzy Adonis, a supervisor and one of the first officers to respond, also faces departmental charges for alleged procedural infractions, city officials said. Her attorney also declined comment.
Pantaleo’s case will be prosecuted by the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the city agency tasked with oversight of the police department, officials said. The CCRB substantiated allegations of misconduct only against Pantaleo, police officials said. An NYPD official will lead the administrative case against Adonis, who was a supervisor and one of the first people at the scene.
An NYPD official will lead the administrative case against Adonis.
An NYPD official told CNN that the disciplinary hearings likely will take place in early 2019. That will allow for the officers’ attorneys to have adequate time to prepare, said Deputy Commissioner for Legal Matters Lawrence Byrne.
Family wants officers to be held accountable
On the fourth anniversary of Eric Garner’s death Tuesday, his mother, Gwen Carr, stood on the steps of City Hall and demanded action from authorities, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“The de Blasio administration should never have waited for four years or until September because the idea that NYPD couldn’t have acted before DOJ has always been a lie,” Carr said in a statement, adding that she wanted all the officers seen in the video to be disciplined – not just Pantaleo and Adonis.
Garner died in 2014 after police attempted to arrest the 43-year-old father of six for allegedly selling cigarettes illegally in Staten Island.
Garner’s sister, Ellisha Garner, said the video was clear-cut and the officers should be fired.
“Eric lost his life. What gives him the right to keep his job,” Garner, 42, said. “I’ll be a little satisfied when someone is actually held accountable. It won’t bring him back but at least we know we didn’t let it go.”
Police union calls for fair process
On Tuesday, the DOJ released a statement saying they told the NYPD in the spring that they were free to pursue disciplinary proceedings. City officials have denied the claim.
Mayor de Blasio, who said he was surprised by Tuesday’s statement, asked NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill to speak directly to top DOJ officials and hear it directly from them.
“We wanted to hear it from a ranking official of DOJ,” de Blasio said. “That was done in the last 24 hours. It was specifically confirmed. That makes it abundantly clear to all of us. It’s time to move forward.”
Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association officials, the union that represents Pantaleo and other rank and file members, said they hope the process is fair and not political.
“We hope that the NYPD’s eagerness to start the disciplinary process does not mean the outcome has already been decided, without even the pretense of due process,” said PBA President Patrick J. Lynch in a statement. ” P.O. Pantaleo is entitled to a complete an impartial review of the facts. We are confident that he will be vindicated by such a review, unless the Mayor and the NYPD leadership have already decided to prioritize politics over fairness.”
CNN’s Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.