The NYPD officer who remains on the force after his apparent chokehold killed Eric Garner in 2014 is scheduled for a disciplinary conference Thursday that could possibly cost him his job as soon as next year.
The proceeding against Officer Daniel Pantaleo is to be held in lower Manhattan at NYPD headquarters, where his lawyer and the civilian-led NYPD oversight board prosecuting the case are to discuss scheduling and expedite document discovery, according to his lawyer, Stuart London.
The police commissioner has discretion to fire Pantaleo or levy a lesser sanction, or no sanction, regardless of the outcome at the disciplinary hearing.
To the fury of Garner’s mother and police-accountability activists, Pantaleo has remained on the force, albeit restricted to desk duty, since Garner’s death. His pay has risen to average about $110,000 a year, with overtime, according to the website SeeThroughNY.
“Four and a half years ago, my son was murdered on video for the whole world to see, and no one has stood accountable yet,” said Gwen Carr, Garner’s mother, who with others held a protest Tuesday at the City Hall steps. A Staten Island grand jury declined to indict anyone in Garner’s death. The U.S. Justice Department is reportedly still considering whether to bring a federal charge against Pantaleo.
Pantaleo and Sgt. Kizzy Adonis, the supervisor that day, were formally served with departmental charges in July.
Carr was flanked by lawmakers and about two dozen supporters with placards listing the names of Pantaleo and other cops involved in the Garner encounter. None of the officers have lost their jobs, Carr lamented.
Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Queens), chairman of the public safety committee, said the death would “forever be a stain on the NYPD and this entire city, a stain that can only be cleaned by justice.”
Kirsten John Foy, a lieutenant to the activist-preacher Al Sharpton, noted that the death happened under Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, who was elected in 2013 on a platform of addressing long-standing criticisms of NYPD treatment of blacks and Hispanics.
“It happened on the watch of a mayor who was elected on the promise to make sure that that nonsense does not happen,” Foy said.
Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) accused de Blasio of squandering his electoral mandate to change the NYPD.
“How dare you use the lives of black and brown people who have been killed with impunity!” Williams said, adding that the cops should be fired immediately.
De Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips declined to comment.
Garner's death, during an arrest for selling untaxed cigarettes on Staten Island — and recorded on cellphone video by a bystander with dying words "I can't breathe” — became a literal rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement, which seeks to highlight what its backers consider inequitable and abusive policing of Hispanics and blacks.
The medical examiner ruled that the chokehold was the chief cause of Garner’s death — which Pantaleo’s labor union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, disputes as a “political” finding.
Thursday’s case, by the Civilian Complaint Review Board, alleges that Pantaleo used a long-banned chokehold and restricted Garner's breathing.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill said Tuesday: “I know it’s been a long time.”
“We do want to get this done. It'll be done sometime next year,” O’Neill said at an unrelated news conference about record-low crime rates. “Hopefully, it’ll be concluded.”
With Anthony M. DeStefano