Brooklyn Pols Call for Pantaleo to be Fired

Jasmine Robinson speaks into a microphone with a protester holding a sign that reads “Justice for Eric Garner Now! Your Silence is Violence” (Image by Sam Raskin/ Bklyner)

After a police judge recommended the firing of Daniel Pantaelo, the NYPD officer who during an arrest killed Eric Garner five years ago in an incident that spurred city and nationwide protests, several Brooklyn elected officials on Friday called for the police commissioner to get the officer off the force.

The judge’s decision comes after the DOJ last month opted not to charge Pantaelo, who in 2014 used a NYPD-banned chokehold that a medical examiner determined was the cause of Garner’s death on Staten Island. Now, with Pantaeleo suspended as of Friday early afternoon per NYPD policy, it’s time in the years-long process for Police Commissioner James O’Neill to make a decision, local pols say.

An NYPD spokesperson said Friday that the police commissioner is “aware of media reports and public statements” about the conclusion of the Pantaleo trial, but has “not been provided the draft report.”

“All of New York City understandably seeks closure to this difficult chapter in our city’s history,” said the spokesperson, Phil Walzak, in a statement. “Premature statements or judgments before the process is complete however cannot and will not be made.  In order to protect the integrity of the trial proceedings and conclusion, the NYPD will not comment further until the Police Commissioner makes the final determination.”

But some Brooklyn politicians are running out of patience.

Borough President Eric Adams, a former NYPD police officer who’s running for the mayor, said the NYPD should “immediately remove Officer Pantaleo from service.”

The pursuit of justice for #EricGarner’s long-suffering family should end today,” Adams, a mayoral candidate who in 2014 called for Pantaleo to be fired, said in a tweet. “It’s time for healing.” 

In a statement, Adams added, “Five years ago, after the Staten Island grand jury handed down their decision, I stated that Officer Pantaleo should be terminated. I now urge Mayor de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner O’Neill to immediately heed the recommendation of the departmental disciplinary hearing.”

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who formerly represented parts of Brooklyn in the City Council, said the “judge confirmed what many of us have known for years — Daniel Pantaleo used a banned chokehold and killed Eric Garner.”

“The world saw it on camera, heard Eric Garner say ‘I can’t breathe’ eleven times, watched Pantaleo ignore those pleas,” he continued. “It has always been clear that he should be fired – that removing him from the NYPD is the absolute minimum of what some semblance of justice looks like.”

“All of the work done toward better policing in this city is overshadowed if there is no accountability for someone who killed a man on camera,” added Williams.

“Officer Pantaleo should have been fired 5 years ago. Justice delayed has been justice denied for the Garner family,” Council Member Brad Lander, a comptroller candidate, said in a statement. “After five long years of delay, today’s recommendation that Officer Pantaleo be terminated from the NYPD is the bare minimum.”

Council Member Antonio Reynoso, who is running for borough president, said Pantaleo “should be fired for murdering Eric Garner.”

@NYPDONeill must now act swiftly on this decision,” he tweeted. “The Garner family can wait no longer.

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Sam Raskin

Sam Raskin has reported for Politico New York, Gotham Gazette, Gothamist and Curbed New York.

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