It's been more than five years since New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo choked Eric Garner to death. Video of Garner's death, and his last words, "I can't breathe," quickly went viral and helped to galvanize the growing Black Lives Matter Movement, but despite the widespread outrage, Pantaleo did not face any official sanctions and remained with the NYPD on desk duty.
As of Monday, he's finally been fired for violating department policy by using a prohibited chokehold in 2014. Regarding the termination, New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill said, "It is clear that Daniel Pantaleo can no longer serve as a police officer."
After an internal review earlier this month, administrative judge Rosemarie Maldonado recommended that Pantaleo be fired, calling his testimony "untruthful." According to Maldonado's opinion, which the New York Times obtained on Sunday, Pantaleo insisted that he never used a chokehold on Garner, despite the infamous video of Garner's death and autopsy results that found hemorrhaging in Garner's neck muscles. The NYPD has banned officers from using chokeholds for more than 20 years now, and administrative judge called Pantaleo's explanation "implausible and self-serving," and said she found officers who spoke in his defense "unhelpful or unreliable." She described his action as a clear "use of a chokehold" and wrote that his behavior "fell so far short of objective reasonableness that this tribunal found it to be reckless—a gross deviation from the standard of conduct established for a New York City police officer."
Pantaleo and other NYPD officers approached 43-year-old Eric Garner on suspicion of selling cigarettes on the sidewalk. When Garner claimed police hassled him frequently, the encounter quickly escalated. The Justice Department decided earlier this summer not to prosecute Pantaleo for federal civil rights violations, overruling a recommendation from its own Civil Rights Division. Such violations are notoriously difficult to argue since it requires prosecutors to prove that the officer was deliberately trying to violate the victim's civil rights, and a 2016 investigation, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review found that the Justice Department chose not to bring charges in 96 percent of such cases.
According to the Los Angeles Times, one out of every 1,000 black men in the U.S. are likely to be killed by police. That's 2.5 times more likely than white men, and for black men between 20- and 24-years-old, "police use of force accounted for 1.6%." Just this month, a Colorado Springs officer shot 19-year-old De’Von Bailey three times in the back, killing him. Bailey's family is calling for an independent probe into his death.
U.S. in Arms
Raeford Davis, who worked as a cop in South Carolina until 2006, has been an outspoken advocate against the war on drugs and police brutality.
Originally Appeared on GQ