The New York Police Department has fired the officer responsible for killing Eric Garner using an NYPD-banned chokehold during a 2014 arrest, according to NBC News.
The officer, Daniel Pantaleo, was fired Monday even though he avoided criminal charges for his role in Garner’s death. Attorney General William Barr dropped the case earlier this summer, citing a lack of evidence.
Pantaleo’s termination comes after an NYPD judge recommended it and accused him of “gross deviation from the standard of conduct established for an NYPD officer” and of being dishonest and uncooperative during the investigations that followed Garner’s death.
In her opinion, Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado wrote:
“ln making this penalty recommendation this tribunal recognizes that from the outset Mr. Garner was non-compliant and argumentative, and further notes that the Patrol Guide allows officers to use ‘reasonable force’ when necessary to take an uncooperative individual into custody. What the Patrol Guide did not allow, however, even when this individual was resisting arrest, was the use of a prohibited chokehold. Having considered relevant precedent, in conjunction with the arguments, caselaw, and evidence presented at trial, it is recommended that [Pantaleo] be DISMISSED from the New York City Police Department.”
Video of the arrest that led to Garner’s death was widely circulated after it occurred, with Garner’s repeated pleas of “I can’t breathe” becoming a rallying cry for activists protesting police brutality. Police were attempting to arrest Garner for allegedly illegally selling cigarettes.
Garner’s death, along with that of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, were two of the key events that contributed to the expansion of the Black Lives Matter movement, which was founded after then-neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neil empathized with Pantaleo, who has been with the NYPD since 2006, in remarks after the firing was announced.
“Had I been in Officer Pantaleo’s situation I may have similar mistakes,” O’Neill said. “I would have wished I had released my grip before it became a chokehold.”