NYPD Fires Officer Responsible for the Death of Eric Garner

People participate in a protest to mark the five year anniversary of the death of Eric Garner during a confrontation with a police officer in the borough of Staten Island on July 17, 2019 in New York City.
People participate in a protest to mark the five year anniversary of the death of Eric Garner during a confrontation with a police officer in the borough of Staten Island on July 17, 2019 in New York City.
Photo: Spencer Platt (Getty Images)

Five years after “I can’t breathe” became a rallying cry for police accountability in light of the unnecessary death of 43-year-old Eric Garner, comes the news that the officer responsible, Daniel Pantaleo, has been fired.

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According to the Washington Post, NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill made the announcement on Monday, weeks after a departmental disciplinary judge recommended that Pantaleo be terminated from the police force. Following that recommendation, Pantaleo was suspended indefinitely.

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O’Neil admitted that what should’ve been an easy decision was “extremely difficult” but that Pantaleo had to be held accountable for his actions.

“In this case the unintended consequence of Mr. Garner’s death must have a consequence of its own,” O’Neill said. “It is clear that Daniel Pantaleo can no longer effectively serve as a New York City police officer.”

O’Neill also said that he reached two conclusions after watching the widely circulated video in which Garner is wrestled to the ground and put in an illegal chokehold by Pantaleo: that Garner would’ve likely received a summons instead of being arrested had he complied with officers and that while Pantaleo initially utilized “approved techniques,” the chokehold that stole Garner’s life was prohibited.

“Cops have to make choices, sometimes very quickly,” said O’Neill. “Those decisions are scrutinized and second-guessed, both fairly and unfairly.”

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In response to this news, Emerald Snipes Garner, Eric Garner’s youngest daughter, issued the following statement to The Root:

“I thank everybody who has been standing with my family for the past 5 years, and everyone who’s been screaming ‘Fire Pantaleo!’ To Commissioner O’Neill, I thank you for firing Officer Pantaleo. You finally made a decision that should have been made 5 years ago.”

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Emerald has every intention to continue to rail against police brutality and hold officers accountable for their behavior, including prohibiting the use of chokeholds throughout the country.

“I don’t want another Eric Garner,” she said in her statement. “I will do everything in my power to stop [there from being] another Eric Garner.”

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Social media has been flooded with reactions as well, as countless users and prominent figures have shared their thoughts on Pantaleo’s long overdue firing.

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While Pantaleo’s firing is a step in the right direction, it’s merely the tip of the iceberg and serves as a reminder of the work that still lies ahead.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for ya'll to stop putting sugar in grits.

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O’Neill also said that he reached two conclusions after watching the widely circulated video in which Garner is wrestled to the ground and put in an illegal chokehold by Pantaleo: that Garner would’ve likely received a summons instead of being arrested had he complied with officers and that while Pantaleo initially utilized “approved techniques,” the chokehold that stole Garner’s life was prohibited.

O’Neil’s first conclusion is 110% bullshit and only is meant to appease his fellow cops who still want to defend Pantaleo’s murdering ass. Nobody protested and dragged this out for 5 years over whether Eric Garner should have been given a summons or not. The fact of the matter is he died, unnecessarily, at the hands of Pantaleo and there was no accountability. In fact those fuckers gave him a raise and a desk job despite him already having numerous complains against him for other abusive behavior during his career.

O’Neill’s second conclusion, the actually correct one and the reason why he’s even speaking about this at all, is the only one that matters.

Also, is this a real firing, or was he just “fired”, as in he gets severance pay, keeps his pension, plus whatever other taxpayer-funded fuckery his cop union was able to get him?