Autopsy results in the case of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man who died after police used an unauthorized chokehold when arresting him last week, could be released as early as Wednesday, a law enforcement official said.
Garner died apparently of cardiac arrest after he got into a scuffle with police trying to arrest him on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes on a sidewalk near the Staten Island Ferry terminal. Amateur video captured one officer, identified as Daniel Pantaleo, using what Police Commissioner William Bratton said was a chokehold banned by the NYPD for more than 20 years.
A spokeswoman for the city medical examiner would only say Monday that there were no updates about the status of the autopsy on Garner, who weighed 350 pounds.
Attorney Sanford Rubenstein of Brooklyn, who said he was representing Garner's family in possible legal action against the city and the NYPD, said Garner's funeral is scheduled for Wednesday evening at Bethel Baptist Church, 265 Bergen St., Brooklyn, at 7 p.m. A private wake will be held from 2 to 6:45 p.m. at the church, Rubenstein said.
Pantaleo has been stripped of his badge and gun and placed on desk duty while Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan conducts a criminal investigation, officials said. A spokesman for Donovan said yesterday the investigation was ongoing. Another officer involved in the case was placed on modified assignment, as were four emergency medical technicians working for Richmond University Medicial Center.
Mayor Bill De Blasio, who is in Rome with his family to vacation and visit with Italian government representatives, said it appeared to him that Garner had been put in a chokehold.
"There's an internal process and I respect that process. I think the fact is that Commissioner Bratton acted having looked at the facts, and you know, it's quite clear that the chokehold has been prohibited for decades," DeBlasio told reporters in Rome. "But I leave the specific actions within the police department to Commissioner Bratton."
The mayor continued, "I have absolute faith in his judgment, and you know, I think the actions that have been taken show that there's a serious commitment to a full investigation and appropriate follow-through."
He added, "As an individual who's not an expert in law enforcement, it looked like a chokehold to me, but I also emphasize that you have a full investigation because all sides need to be heard and all evidence has to be looked at."Pantaleo recently faced other allegations of misconduct. Earlier this year, the city settled a lawsuit brought by Darren Collins and another man, who claimed that during a 2012 traffic stop Pantaleo illegally had them undergo degrading strip searches in public and filed criminal charges which were later dismissed. Federal court records show the case was settled in January for an undisclosed sum.
In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan, another Staten Island man, Raylawn Walker alleged that Pantaleo had him improperly arrested on charges that were later dismissed.
Michael Colihan, the attorney representing Walker, couldn't be reached for comment Monday. Walker was reportedly arrested on a marijuana charge. A spokesman for the NYPD declined to comment on the case Monday.
With Emily Ngo