Daniel Pantaleo was suspended from the New York Police Department Friday after a national outcry calling for the officer’s firing over the killing of an unarmed black man.
A New York administrative judge recommended his termination after Pantaleo put 43-year-old Eric Garner in a chokehold that killed him.
“Officer Pantaleo has been suspended, effective today, as is the longstanding practice in these matters when the recommendation is termination,” the New York Police Department said in a statement. “All of New York City understandably seeks closure to this difficult chapter in our City’s history. … 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.”
— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) August 2, 2019
Garner’s death, caught on video five years ago, sparked national protests, and his last words led to the “I can’t breathe” mantra of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The decision of whether Pantaleo will officially be let go from the force now proceeds to the city’s police commissioner, James O’Neill.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is currently running for the Democratic presidential nomination, praised the decision to suspend Pantaleo.
“Today, we finally saw a step towards justice and accountability,” de Blasio said in a press conference following the announcement. “We saw a process that was actually fair and impartial, and I hope that this will now bring the Garner family a sense of closure and the beginning of some peace.”
In a statement, the president of the New York City Police Benevolent Association, Patrick Lynch, condemned the judge’s call for Pantaleo to be terminated as “pure political insanity.”
“If it is allowed to stand, it will paralyze the NYPD for years to come,” Lynch said. “The only hope for justice now lies with Police Commissioner O’Neill. He knows the message that this decision sends to every cop: we are expendable, and we cannot expect any support from the city we protect.”
#BREAKING Lynch Blasts Pantaleo Decision: “Pure Political Insanity”
The only hope for justice now lies with Police Commissioner O’Neill. He knows the message that this decision sends to every cop: we are expendable, and we cannot expect any support from the city we protect. pic.twitter.com/jAU4ED0Bzc
— NYC PBA (@NYCPBA) August 2, 2019
The U.S. Department of Justice announced weeks ago that it would not seek civil rights or criminal charges against Pantaleo after the five-year investigation.
During the second night of the Democratic presidential debates this week, which featured de Blasio on stage, hecklers interrupted the prime-time event multiple times throughout the evening, chanting, “Fire Pantaleo.” The topic became a subject of discussion later in the evening, with multiple candidates, including New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand calling for Pantaleo’s termination.