It’s been five years since the world watched bystander cell phone video of New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer Daniel Pantaleo kill Eric Garner via an illegal chokehold. No one can forget the agonizing cries of the Black Staten Island father, who said “I can’t breathe” 11 times before going limp.
Today (August 2), a New York administrative judge, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado, recommended that the officer, who is White, be fired. The decision comes two days after protestors disrupted night-two of the Democratic presidential debates by chanting “Fire Pantaleo!” Their target was NYC mayor and presidential hopeful Bill de Blasio. On the same stage, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said the officer should lose his job.
Today’s state decision is a break from that of the United States Department of Justice, which on July 16 declined to bring federal civil rights charges against Pantaleo. Now, police commissioner James P. O’Neill has to decide whether to follow the judge’s recommendation or keep the controversial officer on payroll before getting the boot. Pantaleo, who was suspended shortly after the decision, could also resign.
Garner’s widow, Esaw Garner Snipes, told CNN this morning that if the officer isn’t fired, “it’s not gonna be pretty.” She went on to say, “the Garner family is not going away until we get what we want, and that’s justice.”