Four Years Later, NYPD Prepares to Discipline Cop in Eric Garner's Death

A child holds up a sign outside the Bethel Baptist Church before the funeral for Eric Garner on July 23, 2014, in New York City.
A child holds up a sign outside the Bethel Baptist Church before the funeral for Eric Garner on July 23, 2014, in New York City.
Photo: Spencer Platt (Getty Images)

1,462 days after Eric Garner wheezed the words “I can’t breathe” before giving up the ghost on a Staten Island sidewalk, the New York Police Department has decided to discipline Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer whose arms just happened to be wrapped around Garner’s neck at the time.


Well ... maybe

“Based on our most recent conversations, it has become clear that a definite date by which time a final decision by the U.S. DOJ will be rendered in this matter cannot be predicted,” wrote Lawrence Byrne, the deputy commissioner for legal matters for the NYPD.

According to the Associated Press, Byrne sent a letter to the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, stating: “The NYPD has come to the conclusion that given the extraordinary passage of time since the incident without a final decision on the U.S. DOJ’s criminal investigation, any further delay in moving ahead with our own disciplinary proceedings can no longer be justified.”

On July 14, 2014, Eric Garner died from what the New York City Medical Examiner termed: “Compression of neck, compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.”

Despite having had 18 allegations of some sort of abuse or misconduct in 14 separate incidents before his encounter with Garner, that police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, is still employed as a police officer earning a six-figure salary after a grand jury declined to indict him in 2014.


After the incident, President Barack Obama’s attorney general, Loretta Lynch, instructed prosecutors to begin building a case for indictment. But Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has been hesitant to push for prosecution since his boss and CEO of the Keebler elf empire, Jeff Sessions, announced that his Justice Department would not continue the practice of punishing police officers, because it leads to”racial animosity.”

Now the NYPD says it will no longer wait for federal prosecutors and will hand the case over to its Civilian Complaint Review Board. The Department uses CCRB as an “impartial agency that has been independent of the police department since 1993” to review civilian complaints against police.


It is composed of nonpolice investigators who conduct investigations in cases of unnecessary or excessive force, abuse of authority or discourtesy. In theory, it is more effective to have people outside the police department oversee these kinds of allegations.

Although the NYPD typically waits for prosecutors to settle a case before handing it over to the CCRB, the Justice Department says it told the NYPD months ago that the CCRB could move forward, adding that the DOJ “does not have any bearing on the decision-making timeline.”


So four years and a day after Eric Garner was killed; three years, 5 days after the City of New York agreed to pay the family $5.9 million and seven months after the death of his daughter, Erica Garner, someone finally decided to discipline the man who “compressed” Garner to death.

But the most ridiculous response surrounding this news came from Pat Lynch, head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association who wrote, in a statement, that Daniel Pantaleo, the man who handed Eric Garner a sidewalk death sentence, is “entitled to due process and an impartial consideration of the facts.”


I laughed so hard...

I couldn’t breathe.

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Totally OT, but anyone else having problem with their virtual memory and loading The Roots posts? This just started happening to me a day or two ago, and it means my browser crashes after a few minutes.