Mayor de Blasio says 'justice has been done' after officer fired

Wednesday, 21 Aug, 2019

The Rodney King beating in 1991 and subsequent acquittal of the cops caught on tape triggered the 1992 Los Angeles riots; almost a quarter century later, much clearer video revealed Pantaleo choking to death an unarmed man who showed no physical aggression toward the officers surrounding him.

Garner's death was ruled a homicide by New York City's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. "The leadership has abandoned ship and left our street officers on the street alone, without backing".

"During the struggle Officer Pantaleo had the opportunity to readjust his grip from a prohibited chokehold to a less lethal alternative, but did not make use of the opportunity", stated the police commissioner. Garner's relatives have long demanded Pantaleo be removed from the force.

Her advice to Garner's family Monday: "Keep a fire lit for justice, and encourage movements across this nation". "I hope today brings some small measure of closure and peace to the Garner family".

Over five years later, and after widespread protest by Black Lives Matter activists and other people, Pantaleo was sacked. Police believed Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, was selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. The incident was captured on cellphone video that showed Garner shouting "I can't breathe" 11 times.

Just weeks later, protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, over the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

Throughout the fall of 2014, demonstrators chanted "I can't breathe" as they marched against police brutality in multiple USA cities.

A Staten Island grand jury and the US Department of Justice both declined to prosecute in one of a series of cases in which a law enforcement officer faced no criminal liability for killing an unarmed black man. His last words were used as a rallying cry in the Black Lives Matter movement.

De Blasio, meanwhile, commended the decision to oust Pantaleo.

Pantaleo was suspended pending the decision by O'Neill, who had the final say on the officer's future.

'First, I found [Pantaleo] to be disingenuous when he viewed the video and denied using a chokehold, even though his actions were completely consistent with his own erroneous and restrictive definition of the Patrol Guide prohibition'.

The Rev. Al Sharpton said Garner's family was "relieved but not celebratory".

Pantaleo's lawyer said he would appeal the decision.

Mr Garner's daughter, Emerald Snipes Garner, thanked Mr O'Neill "for doing the right thing".

He said that it had been a hard decision, adding that some police officers would be "angry" with him, but he was absolutely sure he had made the correct one. "For the Garner and Carr families, it's bittersweet", she said.

In the report, Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado writes that while she does not believe that Pantaleo meant to choke Garner, the autopsy results, the video, and Pantaleo's own interviews led her to conclude that he used the prohibited move.

Asked whether the mayor forced his hand, O'Neill said the dismissal was his choice.