Patterico's Pontifications


NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo Has Been Fired

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:06 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Five years after killing Eric Garner, Officer Daniel Pantaleo has been fired:

New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill announced on Monday that NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo has been fired. O’Neill terminated Pantaleo, 34, after it was determined he violated department policy by restraining Garner with a prohibited chokehold in 2014.

“It is clear that Daniel Pantaleo can no longer serve as a police officer,” O’Neill said.

An administrative judge previously recommended Pantaleo’s termination following an internal disciplinary trial. The judge, a deputy commissioner, found Pantaleo was “untruthful” during interviews with investigators and had “recklessly used force” during the fatal encounter.

Pantaleo had not faced official sanction for his actions until now, only being placed on desk duty. The Justice Department in July declined to charge Pantaleo with violating Garner’s civil rights. A Staten Island grand jury in 2014 declined to indict Pantaleo.

According to Commissioner O’Neill, Pantaleo was not personally informed of his dismissal before it was publicly announced. Also, according to O’Neill, Pantaleo will not receive his NYPD pension, contributions already made towards his pension will be returned to him.

Eric Garner’s daughter told reporters:

“I don’t even want to see another video of a person being choked out. Because it wasn’t supposed to happen to him. It’s not supposed to happen. I should not be here standing with my brother, fatherless. I should be standing here with my father. But Pantaleo took that away from me on 7/17. Yes, he’s fired. But the fight is not over. We will continue to fight.”

She also thanked NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill for his decision to fire Pantaleo.

“I thank you for doing the right thing,” Emerald Garner said.

Pantaleo’s lawyers plan to appeal the decision:

Daniel Pantaleo’s attorney Stuart London said that he received a call notifying him that Pantaleo was being fired “about 13 minutes” before the NYPD police commissioner made the public announcement.

London, speaking at a press conference today, said that he passed the information onto Pantaleo.

“Obviously he is disappointed, upset,” London said about Pantaleo’s reaction. “But he has a lot of strength.”

London said that Pantaleo will file an Article 78 in court to appeal the decision by the commissioner to terminate him.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


14 Responses to “NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo Has Been Fired”

  1. Hello.

    Dana (fdf131)

  2. he violated department policy, and someone died as a result.

    why did it take five years to fire him?

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  3. 2… why??? Due process and civil service protections…

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  4. More evidence that cigarettes can kill. Not just lives– but careers.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  5. no stupid nanny state Bloomberg rules,

    narciso (d1f714)

  6. The standards for criminal prosecution and keeping a policeman on the job are very different, and that is how it should be. Police are given enormous powers by the state, and if there is good reason to think they are abusing those powers — even through sloppiness, rather than malice — they have to go.

    Bored Lawyer (998177)

  7. 6. Yes. This.

    Gryph (08c844)

  8. I suspect the police union will go to bat for him on the pension thing. And he might win there. But no way is he getting his police job back. Maybe upstate.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  9. In CA it was just decided that cops can only use necessary force vs the previous standard of reasonable force. At first, to me anyway, that sounded like a distinction without much of a difference until I saw how this played out.
    If the standard was reasonable, I could give the cop in NY the nod because, during the course of the scrum, the hold used went from seatbelt to choke and it could be seen to have been an inadvertent switch that occurred due to the resistance of a larger man. In other words, it could be reasonable to find that during an escalating situation on the ground, grappling around, shit happens.
    When you throw “necessary” into the mix, the whole incident goes away. It’s not necessary to engage anyone physically over loose cigarettes… which sounds reasonable, except then lets forget about enforcing tax laws and street level narcotics sales, traffic laws, street level drug use, street defecation, etc. The cops will avoid policing anything that cannot be clearly defined as necessary and supported as such, because for force to be necessary, the enforcement has to be sanctioned and the “shit happens” during resistance standard needs to be sanctioned as well. Otherwise the cops won’t engage. It like if you wanted the Marines to embed a JAG lawyer during house to house fighting in Fallujah to get a ruling if its gonna be oK to drop a bomb on a resistance building or are they going to all wind up in the brig. They’ll start skipping any building that has a whiff of ambiguity

    steveg (354706)

  10. I forgot to say those street level offenders could all resist identifying themselves, resist detention, refuse all enforcement efforts knowing the cops cannot touch them even if they resist.
    So why bother enforcing laws that can only get a cop in trouble?
    So then change the laws. Make it all not a crime, and then have the Commanders tell the rank and file that x,y,z are no longer illegal.
    The legislators don’t want the onus on them though. They know the people don’t want street level bullshit in their neighborhoods, but they are too gutless to own the consequences of their personal convictions

    steveg (354706)

  11. hhe Adminsitrative judge said this was very similar to a 1994 case (where, however, there was no justificartion for the police arresting someone – they had been playing with a football in the street and the football hit his police car) where also, a chokehood was used, and the person died of an asthma attack (that person only 29 years old)

    The investigators with the New York Police Department then had him watch video that showed him standing behind Eric Garner during a botched arrest five months earlier on Staten Island. In the video, Officer Pantaleo had his left forearm wrapped around Mr. Garner’s neck, hands clasped. Still, he denied having used the prohibited maneuver.

    “No, I did not,” Officer Pantaleo said.

    An administrative judge, in a 46-page opinion obtained by The New York Times, found this explanation “implausible and self-serving.”

    The judge, Rosemarie Maldonado, who has recommended that Officer Pantaleo be fired, concluded that he had been “untruthful” during the interview, according to the opinion that grew out of a departmental trial that ended in June.

    Judge Maldonado, a deputy commissioner with the Police Department, also found that officers who testified in Officer Pantaleo’s defense were “unhelpful or unreliable.”

    …However troubling, she said she was not persuaded that it was his intent to choke Mr. Garner, and she acquitted the officer of strangulation.

    …Two and a half minutes into the video, Officer Pantaleo and Mr. Garner fell away from a plate-glass window to the ground. Officer Pantaleo’s left arm was around Mr. Garner’s neck while they were both on the Bay Street sidewalk.

    Officers Ramos and Furlani had arrived, giving Officer Pantaleo other options to gain compliance and adjust his grip, Judge Maldonado said. But instead of letting go, he clasped his hands.

    Two seconds later, she said, Mr. Garner gave what appeared to be the first signal of distress: He opened his right hand with his palm out and made a guttural sound. His suffering was confirmed, she said, when Mr. Garner, on his side with his left arm behind his back and his right hand still open and out, coughed and grimaced as Officer Pantaleo maintained his grip.

    At that moment, she said the officer’s conduct “escalated from a Patrol Guide violation to criminal recklessness,” she said.

    Police chokehold deaths are rare, but Judge Maldonado invoked a “strikingly similar” precedent in calling for Officer Pantaleo’s dismissal: the case of Francis X. Livoti 22 years ago.

    In 1994, Officer Livoti got upset that a football being tossed between a man and his brothers hit his patrol car. During a subsequent dispute, he put the man, Anthony Baez, in a chokehold.

    Like Mr. Garner, Mr. Baez suffered an asthma attack and died. He was 29.

    Officer Livoti was acquitted of state charges of criminally negligent homicide in 1996, but he was fired by the police commissioner, Howard Safir, on Feb. 21, 1997. Later, he was sentenced to seven and a half years in federal prison for violating Mr. Baez’s civil rights.

    Judge Maldonado — referring to Officer Livoti and Mr. Baez by the case number and date, not their names — noted that while the 1994 chokehold was never proven to have been the sole cause of Mr.
    Baez’s death, it led to his “‘downward spiral.’”

    Similarly, “There is only one appropriate penalty for the grave misconduct that yielded an equally grave result,” she wrote of Officer Pantaleo.

    Thus, Judge Maldonado said, he “can no longer remain a New York City police officer.”

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  12. So he’s fired for lying (later he was silent) and for not stopping, or re-evaluating the situation when he saw Eric Garner was in distress.

    In his defense, it could be said that he didn’t understand asthma, and they all, including the EMTs later, had the mindset that Eric Garner was engaged in civil disobedience.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  13. People write like Pantaleo was the only officer there. IRC, he was one of five cops, and he was taking orders from the Sargent on the scene, a black female cop.

    Further, Garner was gang tackled, and after he was on the ground, it was unclear who was doing what. But somehow Pantaleo, and he alone, was to blame. I don’t know how you get a 6′ 300 lbs. suspect under control, when he’s resisting arrest – without the use of force. And frankly, I don’t see the justification for taking away his pension. Now, if he truly did LIE under oath, maybe that’s the reason. But otherwise, no.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  14. Pantaleo was blamed because he started it abruptly and it was simpler narrative to say that he choked garner to death, which he did not.

    I mean if Eric Garner was saying “I can’t breathe” he obviously wasn’t being choked because if he was being choked, he couldn’t get those words out.

    That was an asthma attack.

    In other words, the accusations have been dishonest.

    An interesting fact here, not mentoned, is that one of Eric Garner;s daughters, Erica Garner, also died of an asthma attack, but with no policemen around. So it looks to me like this death was partially genetic.

    Eric Garner had quit his job with the Parks Department because he was physically incapable of doing it and he had found this method of making a living: Illegally selling (probably smuggled and untaxed loosies, or single cigarettes, at a location where also illegal drugs were freely sold. It is illegal for a store to sell loosies so he had a competitive advantage over stores selling cigarettes. And he might reason they’d go after the drug dealers first. (but he was softer target) I actally don’t know for sure what was the situation with the drug dealers but it has been mentioned.

    He had been arrested several times for doing this and presumaably having his stock confiscated and he wanted this harassment to STOP.

    He evidently did not want to admit to himself that he had asthma – he carred no inhaler, and I think at one point a policeman on the scene (not Pantaleo) was looking for one. So at that point they all apparently discarded the asthma attack theory and went back to the playing passive/civil disobedience theory to explain why Eric Garner wasn’t moving.

    Pantaleo didn’t lie under oath. He lied in his initial interviews with his investigators in the Police Department.

    About his pension: There was some idea that he could be fired under such an arrangement so that he could collect his pension in seven years when he would otherwise have been eligible.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

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