A New York City Police Department administrative judge recommended on Friday, Aug. 2, firing NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo accused of using a chokehold in the 2014 death of Eric Garner, a black man whose dying words—”I can’t breathe”—became a national rallying cry against police brutality.
The judge’s findings in the disciplinary case of Pantaleo were provided Friday to his lawyer and the city agency that acted as a prosecutor at his department trial, according to The Associated Press.
Deputy Commissioner Phillip Walzak said NYPD Police Commissioner James O’Neill was aware of media reports regarding the findings but hasn’t been provided a copy, in keeping with the department’s disciplinary process.
The Civilian Complaint Review Board chairman said the judge had recommended that Pantaleo be dismissed. His lawyer, Stuart London, will have about two weeks to submit a response.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill, who is the person who will make a final decision on punishment, is expected to issue his decision later this month, according to NYPD spokesman Walzak.
Pantaleo was suspended following the recommendation.
Pantaleo faced a long-delayed departmental trial in May to determine whether he violated department rules. The Justice Department last month said itCBS News.against him after a five-year investigation, according to
The administrative judge, Rosemarie Maldonado, had been tasked with deciding whether Pantaleo used a banned chokehold to take Eric Garner to the ground during a tense confrontation on a Staten Island street.
A senior law enforcement official said that O’Neill is expected to follow the recommendation of Maldonado.
O’Neill’s final decision will come this month, an NYPD spokesman said, NBC Palm Spring reported.
Maldonado’s decision comes just weeks after Attorney General William Barr declined to bring federal charges against Pantaleo, according to CNN.
Meanwhile, Patrick Lynch, Police Benevolent Association president called the decision “purely political insanity.”
Lynch said in a statement on Friday that if O’Neill goes along with the recommendation, “it will paralyze the NYPD for years to come.”
Lynch said O’Neill “knows that if he affirms this horrendous decision, he will lose his police department.”
Lynch accused the judge of ignoring the evidence and trampling Pantaleo’s due process rights. He said the decision tells officers that they’re expendable, according to The Associated Press.
#BREAKING Lynch Blasts Pantaleo Decision: “Pure Political Insanity”
The only hope for justice now lies with Police Commissioner O’Neill. He knows the message that this decision sends to every cop: we are expendable, and we cannot expect any support from the city we protect. pic.twitter.com/jAU4ED0Bzc
— NYC PBA (@NYCPBA) August 2, 2019
New York Mayor Bill De Blasio on Friday called Maldonado’s decision “a step toward justice and accountability.”
“We saw a process that was actually fair and impartial, and I hope that this will now bring the Garner family a sense of closure and the beginning of some peace,” he said.
De Blasio did not say at a City Hall news conference whether he believes Pantaleo should be fired, according to The Associated Press.
He also said that until Friday, the governemnt had failed the Garner family and given “no sense of closure and no sense of justice.”
In his first year in office, his initial statements after the death of Garner were critical of the officers involved, and then publicly warned his own son, who is black, to be careful during any encounters with police. Two New York City police officers were killed by a disturbed man angry about the Garner and Brown cases, according to CBS News.
The head of the city’s largest police union said the mayor had “blood on his hands” over the killings. Police officers turned their backs on the mayor at the officers’ funerals.
Attorney Stuart London said on Friday that Pantaleo did nothing wrong and plans to keep fighting for his job, according to The Associated Press.
He also said that his client was disappointed an administrative judge recommended his firing, but he remains “cautiously optimistic” the officer ultimately won’t be dismissed.
London and police union leader Patrick Lynch urged O’Neill to stand up for Pantaleo, saying officers otherwise won’t feel they can do their jobs without losing them.
London said he’ll appeal to a court if Pantaleo is fired.