Mayor Bill de Blasio is clearly trying to play politics for his presidential campaign. Even after an NYPD administrative judge on Friday morning recommended that the officer who used an illegal chokehold to kill Eric Garner more than five years ago be fired from the police force — de Blasio won’t say it.
In a press conference yesterday, when asked whether Daniel Pantaleo should be fired, the presidential candidate babbled, “I believe my role is to respect this process and respect the state law.” Further dodging any responsibility, he added, “I hope today begins the process of restoring some faith… I am talking as a steward of this city. I believe my role is to respect this process and respect the state law. And that’s the best way to get to that closure.”
Pantaleo has been suspended since the judge made the recommendation. The NYPD released the following statement, “All of New York City understandably seeks closure to this difficult chapter in our City’s history. Premature statements or judgments before the process is complete however cannot and will not be made. In order to protect the integrity of the trial proceedings and conclusion, the NYPD will not comment further until the Police Commissioner makes the final determination.”
Eric Garner’s mother Gwen Carr released a brief statement about the recommendation to fire Pantaleo.
Carr’s full statement follows:
“My family and I have been fighting for five long years for justice and accountability for Eric’s murder – and Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD have put up roadblocks and delays every step of the way. It brings me some relief to learn that Judge Maldonado has recommended that Pantaleo be fired – but the recommendation is long overdue, I’m still not allowed to see Maldonado’s report and we still have a ways to go before there is true accountability for Eric’s murder. It’s past time for Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD to end their obstruction, stop spreading misleading talking points and finally take action for my son.
“Pantaleo must immediately be put on unpaid suspension so that he doesn’t continue to profit from the murder of my son, he should be stripped of his badge and weapons immediately, and he should be fired without a pension, benefits or a ‘good guy letter’.
“A disciplinary trial for Sgt. Kizzy Adonis must be scheduled immediately, and all officers responsible for my son’s death and for engaging in misconduct to cover it up must be charged and fired – including Justin D’Amico and Lt. Christopher Bannon.
“My son deserves more than recommendations; he deserves justice. New Yorkers deserve to know that police who kill our children and those who try to cover it up will be fired from the NYPD so that they don’t get paid with our taxpayer dollars to be a danger to us. I will continue to fight – and I’m asking everyone who supports me in NYC and around the country to continue to fight – until there is accountability for Eric and for all New Yorkers, and until Pantaleo and all of these officers who engaged in misconduct related to Eric’s murder have been fired from the NYPD.”
Garner was approached by undercover NYPD officers on July 17, 2014, for the alleged offense of selling untaxed loose cigarettes. When officers failed at handcuffing him for the nonviolent misdemeanor, Pantaleo was caught on video with his arms wrapped tightly around Garner’s neck from behind. The chokehold ultimately killed Garner. The entire deadly episode was captured on cellphone video and filmed by a bystander. Garner’s final words “I can’t breathe” — became a rallying call for social justice advocates who saw his death as a murder.