Judge denies motion to dismiss charge in Daniel Pantaleo disciplinary trial

Demonstrators hold signs reading “I Can’t Breathe” — the words Eric Garner said as he was choked to death by NYPD officers — at a protest in 2014. AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File.

Demonstrators hold signs reading “I Can’t Breathe” — the words Eric Garner said as he was choked to death by NYPD officers — at a protest in 2014. AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File.

By Jonathan Sperling

Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer who choked Eric Garner to death in 2014, will proceed to administrative trial on Monday after a judge denied his motion to dismiss disciplinary charges brought by the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board.

The CCRB, which investigates and prosecutes NYPD officers for alleged misconduct, will give Pantaleo an administrative trial, despite his lawyer Stuart London’s argument that the CCRB does not have jurisdiction over the case.

“Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado properly denied Police Officer Pantaleo’s motion to dismiss the charges against him, as no statute of limitations applies in this case,” said CCRB Chairperson Fred Davie in a statement.

“On Monday morning, the CCRB’s Administrative Prosecution Unit will begin presenting its evidence. We are confident that, once all the evidence has been presented, the Police Commissioner will find Officer Pantaleo guilty of misconduct and ultimately terminate him from the Department,” Davie added.

Pantaleo was 29 years old when he and other NYPD officers approached Garner in front of a Staten Island beauty supply store where Garner allegedly sold untaxed, single cigarettes, also known as “loosies.” When Garner began resisting the officers, Pantaleo put him in either a headlock or chokehold from behind and brought Garner to the ground.

In a video taken of the incident, Garner can be heard saying "I can't breathe" nearly a dozen times. He eventually lost consciousness and died approximately an hour later.

Garner’s death galvanized civil rights advocates and police reformers who demand that the NYPD cease the use of excessive force, particularly against people of color.

On Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio discussed Pantaleo during his weekly appearance on WNYC’s “Brian Lehrer Show” and attributed the lack of action on the nearly five-year-old case to the U.S. Justice Department’s failure to bring charges.

“I know the Garner family and they have gone through so much and they’re still waiting for an answer from the Justice Department but we finally got to the point of saying to the Justice Department, the NYPD is going to go ahead with its disciplinary process, but it is due process, it’s a trial, it is due process,” de Blasio said. “It’s not my place to pass judgement. It’s a full trial that needs to take place and once and for all have closure this year on this case.”

“I don’t know if the Justice Department is ever going to act and again I’m astounded and it went over two administrations without any resolution but we owe it to the people of the City and the Garner family to get to whatever resolution a court process brings and that will happen this year,” de Blasio continued.

Garner’s mother Gwen Carr, a civil rights activist, has called on the city to charge the other police officers involved in the chokehold death.

“There was a thorough investigation to determine which officers should have charges brought,” de Blasio said. “In the end it was two. And you know, that is part of a disciplinary process that is something that functions all the time to make sure that any incident is followed up on and we regularly see the results of that disciplinary process.”

“I think the NYPD process is effective,” he continued. “I’ve watched it in many, many cases, and I’ve seen real consequences in the cases were there was proof that an officer had done something wrong. But I’m not going to get into the details of this one because this is an ongoing trial but there was a full disciplinary review.”