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New York City Fires Police Officer Who Killed Eric Garner

Daniel Pantaleo was fired from the New York City Police Department Monday for his involvement in the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man.


Daniel Pantaleo was fired from the New York City Police Department Monday following a New York administrative judge’s recommendation of that decision due to his involvement in the death of Eric Garner.

“In this case the unintended consequence of Mr. Garner’s death must have a consequence of its own. Therefore I agree with the deputy commissioner of trial’s legal findings and recommendations,” New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neil said during a press conference. “It is clear that Daniel Pantaleo can no longer effectively serve as a New York City police officer.”

Pantaleo was suspended from the force earlier this month following a national outcry calling for the officer’s termination over the use of an illegal chokehold that was maintained until Garner, 43, passed away. Garner, a black man, was unarmed during the altercation.

Garner’s death, which was captured on video five years ago, sparked national protests that led to the “I can’t breathe” mantra of the Black Lives Matter movement, inspired by Garner’s last words.

The New York City Police Benevolent Association, the nation’s largest municipal police union representing more than 50,000 members, condemned O’Neill’s decision to fire Pantaleo Monday afternoon.

“The damage is already done. The NYPD will remain rudderless and frozen, and Commissioner O’Neill will never be able to bring it back. Now it is time for every police officer in this city to make their own choice,” the organization’s President Patrick Lynch said in a statement.

O’Neill’s decision to relieve Pantaleo of his duties complies with the administrative judge’s recommendation following a weeks-long hearing after the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would not seek civil rights or criminal charges against Pantaleo after a five-year investigation.

Garner’s death has been a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement, provoking several Democratic presidential candidates to weigh in. At the last set of Democratic primary debates held in Detroit last month, featuring the New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on stage and one of the state’s U.S. senators, hecklers demanded Pantaleo’s firing.

The case was eventually discussed during the primetime event. The several candidates who weighed in on the case, including New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, called for Pantaleo to be let go. De Blasio praised Pantaleo’s suspension from the department earlier this month.

“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,” de Blasio said in a press conference.

This article has been edited since publication.