The New York Police Department announced Friday that it has suspended Daniel Pantaleo, the officer involved in the altercation that led to the death of Eric Garner in 2014.
What’s the background?
Police confronted Garner, 43, on a sidewalk outside a store in Staten Island and accused him of illegally selling cigarettes. Officer Pantaleo tried to restrain Garner using a hold around his neck. In a cellphone video taken by a bystander, Garner can be heard calling out “I can’t breathe” several times during the altercation.
Not long after this confrontation took place, Garner died. The New York City medical examiner determined that his death had been caused by “compression of neck (chokehold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.”
What happened today?
On Friday, more than five years after Garner’s death, a New York administrative judge recommended that the NYPD fire Pantaleo.
The same day, NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Phillip Walzak issued a statement informing the public that “Officer Pantaleo has been suspended, effective today, as is the longstanding practice in these matters when the recommendation is termination.”
It is up to the city’s police commissioner to decide whether Pantaleo will keep his job, a decision the department said will come this month.
“I hope that today begins the process of restoring some faith, and helping people believe that there is actually accountability and fairness,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a news conference on Friday morning after Pantaleo’s suspension was announced.
De Blasio, as well as Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), had been hounded by protesters during Wednesday’s Democratic presidential primary debate on CNN, urging them to “Fire Pantaleo.” The protesters took issue with the fact that de Blasio had not taken a public stance on whether or not Pantaleo should be fired.
This announcement comes just 16 days after the Department of Justice allowed the statute of limitations to run out on Pantaleo’s case, assuring that no criminal charges could be brought against him.