NYPD officer fired for death of Eric Garner after ‘implausible & self-serving’ account

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The New York Police Department has fired the officer responsible for the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man killed during arrest over the “selling of loose cigarettes,” after the officer’s account of events was questioned.

A disciplinary hearing has recommended that NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo – accused of killing Garner with a chokehold prohibited by the department – be removed from the police force, and the move was eventually announced Monday by New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill.

“It is clear that Daniel Pantaleo can no longer effectively serve as a New York City Police officer,” O’Neill said, adding that the decision would likely not go over well with the city’s police officers. “If I was still a cop, I’d probably be mad at me … [but] it’s my responsibility as police commissioner to look out for the city.”

Pantaleo had maintained in his account that he did not use chokehold on Garner, or apply excessive pressure to his neck, but his explanation was found “implausible and self-serving,” as well as “untruthful” by Rosemarie Maldonado, a deputy police commissioner who oversaw Pantaleo’s disciplinary proceedings and suggested that the officer be fired.

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In July, the Department of Justice decided not to pursue federal charges in a civil rights case against Pantaleo, while an earlier grand jury investigation similarly declined to indict the officer. A civil suit filed by Garner’s family against the department was settled out of court in 2015 for $5.9 million in damages, however the family insisted “the victory will come when we get justice.”

Garner’s death, particularly his final words of “I can’t breathe” – repeated to officers 11 times as he pleaded for his life – prompted outrage and demands for greater police accountability, and has sparked dozens of protests nationwide since the July 2014 incident. Hammering that same message, demonstrators at last month’s Democratic presidential debates briefly interrupted the spectacle with chants of “Fire Pantaleo!” before being escorted out of the venue.

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