The number two official at the NYPD has accepted a judge’s ruling that controversial officer Daniel Pantaleo should be fired for his role in Eric Garner’s death in 2014, two law enforcement officials familiar with the case tell News 4.
First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker has reviewed the findings and has passed them on to NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill for a final review, two sources say. Tucker found no new evidence to suggest going against the judge’s decision that Pantaleo be terminated from his position, according to sources.
Pantaleo’s attorney had filed a response to the judge’s ruling, arguing that Garner’s death was in part to blame on resisting arrest and his poor health. The administrative judge had previously ruled Pantaleo used an illegal chokehold on Garner, who had asthma, as he famously said “I can’t breathe.” He was pronounced dead at a hospital. The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide caused in part by the chokehold.
An NYPD spokesperson would not comment about internal deliberations involving the police commissioner and his top deputy.
O’Neill could decide whether or not to fire Pantaleo next week, sources told News 4 — possibly as early as Monday.
On Aug. 2, the judge found Pantaleo — who has been on modified administrative duty in the years since Garner’s death on a Staten Island street corner — guilty of “reckless assault” when he used an impermissible chokehold on the 43-year-old father.
Both Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio have weighed in on how Pantaleo’s fate should be decided. Cuomo said on Aug. 3 that he believes Pantaleo should be fired, as per the judge’s ruling. “When a judge says an officer should be fired because they did something wrong I believe the officer should be fired,” he said. “ Five years that family has been suffering. Give them the respect of doing justice.”
Meanwhile de Blasio has stated multiple times that he will not and legally cannot tell O’Neill what to do. That did not stop protesters from interrupting a press conference the mayor was having shortly after the judge’s decision came down.
Garner’s death sparked national protests about the treatment of black men and boys at the hands of white police officers.