Last Thursday, police approached Eric Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, and accused him of selling illegal cigarettes on the street. Moments later, Garner, who had just come from breaking up a neighborhood fight, lay unresponsive on the ground — in an attempt to arrest him, police cut off Garner’s air supply in a chokehold, a restraining move that led to his untimely death.
Since the tragic incident, watched by thousands in a now viral video, friends, family and supporters of the Staten Island man have come forth to call for the resignation of New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton and a thorough investigation into the excessive force NYPD officers use, especially in particular communities.
And while an investigation is ongoing — Bratton has ordered all 35,000 NYPD officers be retrained in using force and four emergency workers have been suspended without pay — it’s news of the officer who held Garner in a chokehold that is raising questions about Garner’s death and the racial motivation behind it.
Here’s all we know about NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo & his use of excessive force:
- Pantaleo is an 8-year NYPD veteran.
- He has been sued twice within the past two years for alleged civil rights violations.
- In the first suit, two men claim Pantaleo and other officers stopped and strip-searched them in broad daylight while they were driving. The officers handcuffed Darren Collins and Tommy Rice and “Pantaleo and/or Conca pulled down the plaintiffs’ pants and underwear, and touched and searched their genital areas, or stood by while this was done in their presence,” the lawsuit alleged. Eventually the men were criminally charged — according to Collins and Rice’s lawyer, Pantaleo had falsely claimed that he saw crack and heroin in plain view, on the vehicle’s back seat, allowing the officers to arrest everyone in the car. The two men each received $15,000 settlements from the city.
- In the second suit, Rylawn Walker accused Pantaleo of arresting him on Feb. 16, 2012 even though he was “committing no crime at that time and was not acting in a suspicious manner.” That case is still pending.
- All three men were men of color.
- According to Collins and Rice’s attorney, Jason Leventhal, who regularly handles civil rights cases lodged against the NYPD, Pantaleo ignored a “life-or-death rule of the NYPD patrol guide” prohibiting chokeholds, and ignored the department’s use-of-force continuum.
- The tactic, which can be fatal, is prohibited by departmental policy.
According to Section 203-11 of the NYPD Patrol Guide: “Members of the New York City Police Department will not use choke holds. A choke hold shall include, but is not limited to, any pressure to the throat or windpipe, which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air.”
- Chokeholds were banned 20 years ago after the death of a young man, Anthony Baez, who was killed in a confrontation with police after a football he was tossing with friends hit a police car. The officer who choked Baez to death was ultimately sentenced to seven years in prison.
- Pantaleo has been stripped of his gun and badge and placed on desk-duty, but at this point it is unclear if he’ll be criminally charged for Garner’s death, or, ultimately convicted.
- Pantaleo does have some support. The president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the city’s largest police union, called Pantaleo’s reassignment a “completely unwarranted, knee-jerk reaction.”
We’ll keep you updated with the latest in Pantaleo’s investigation. As always, our thoughts and prayers are with Garner’s family during this difficult time.
SOURCE: SILIVE, NY Daily News, YouTube
THEY HAVE A NAME: Honoring Those We Lost To Senseless Violence (PHOTOS)
1. Jordan Davis
Davis, an unarmed 17-year-old, was shot and killed by Michael Dunn at a Florida gas station after an argument over loud music. His killer is set to stand trial in 2014.
2. Trayvon Martin
Trayvon Martin, 17, was killed by patrolman George Zimmerman after he mistook the Skittles and Ice Tea in Martin's hands as weapons. Zimmerman was found not guilty of the murder.
3. Kendrick Johnson
Kendrick Johnson was 17-years-old when he was found dead rolled up in a mat at his high school in Valdosta, Georgia in January. The teen's death was initially named accidental, until more details regarding his death were brought to light last month. The federal government is now looking into the teen's mysterious murder.
4. Alaysha Carradine
Alaysha was killed during a sleepover in July. The 8-year-old was the only one killed during the shooting, while her friends Amara York, 7, and her 4 year-old-brother were wounded.
5. Renisha McBride
Renisha McBride was 19 when she was shot in the head by a man who believed she was trying to harm him. The teen was seeking help after she gotten into a car accident. Police are currently looking into the case.
6. Amanda Todd
Amanda Todd, 15, committed suicide after constant taunting and teasing from bullies online. Her death prompted worldwide recognition of bullying online.
7. Jonathan Ferrell
Ferrell (left) was shot 10 times by Officer Randal Kerrick (right) who thought he was a holding a weapon. The 24-year-old was dropping a friend off when he crashed his car in an unfamiliar neighborhood. Ferrell was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of his death.
8. Darius Simmons
Darius, 13, was shot and killed by his neighbor over the summer. 76-year-old John H. Spooner was arrested and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.
9. Shaniya Davis
Shaniya Davis was raped and killed by a family friend when her mother gave her away to support a drug habit in 2011. Davis was just 5-years-old when she died of asphyxiation and sexual abuse.
10. Andy Lopez
Andy Lopez was shot by Deputy Erick Gelhaus after he mistakenly mistook Lopez's pellet gun with a real one. Gelhaus is currently suspended while many are in protest of the 13-year-old's wrongful death.
11. Joshua Proutey
Proutey was 19-years-old when he was robbed and killed over $10 dollars, a sandwich, and a cell phone in North Carolina in 2012. Four people were arrested in connection to the teen's death.
12. Jonylah Watkins
Jonylah was just six months old when she and her father were shot several times outside a home in Woodlawn, a South Side Chicago neighborhood. Jonylah died on March 13, 2013, after hours of surgery failed to save the baby.
13. Steven Simpson
Simpson, a gay teen, was set on fire at his 18th birthday party by 20-year-old Jordan Sheard. Sheard has been sentenced to three and half years after pleading guilty to manslaughter.
14. Leila Fowler
8-year-old Leila Fowler was killed by a home intruder in April. Her 12-year-old brother has been charged with second degree murder, although his parents believe he is innocent.
15. Shaneisha Forbes
Shaniesha Forbes, 14, disappeared while walking to school in January. Days late,r she was found partially buried in a nature reserve in New York City. Her boyfriend, 20-year-old Christian Ferdinand, was arrested after he suffocated and burned Forbes' body when he believed that she may have been pregnant.
16. D'aja Robinson
D'aja, 16, was shot to death as she sat on a city bus in Queens. The teen was not the target of the shooting. Queens native 50 Cent helped pay for her funeral expenses.
17. Brooklynn Mohler
13-year-old Brooklynn Mohler was killed by a friend when the gun she was holding accidentally discharged in June. Her friend was not charged in her death.
18. Ashley Qualls
Ashley Qualls, 25, was shot after getting into an argument with three bikers in Treme, LA. No arrests were made in her murder.
19. Nicholeia Taylor
The 25-year-old was struck and killed by a stray bullet in Brooklyn last month. Police are looking for her killer, Corey Brown, 21.
20. Trayvon Dodd
Trayvon Dodd was 15 when he was shot and killed by a friend by accident. His friend, a 12-year-old, has not been charged in Dodd's death.
21. Demarius Reed
Eastern Michigan football star Demarius Reed was shot to death in his apartment building hallway in October. Police are still looking into his death.
22. Jasmine Benjamin
Jasmine Benjamin was found in her dorm dead at Valdosta State University last year. In January, her boyfriend Darien Meheux turned himself into police and was charged with suffocating the 17-year-old freshman.
23. Autumn Pasquale
Autumn Pasquale was strangled to death by two teenage boys trying to steal her bike. The boys later dumped her body in a recycling bin.
24. Antiq Hennis
1-year-old Antiq Hennis was shot and killed in Brooklyn when the shooter, Daquan Breland, 23, tried to shoot his father. Breland was charged with murder and is currently facing up to 25 years if convicted.
25. Caleb Gordley
Caleb Gordley was shot and killed after mistakenly entering the wrong home in March. The teen went to a party with friends and tried to sneak back into his home but instead crawled into his neighbor's window when he was killed. His parents have forgiven his shooter.
26. Noel Polanco
The 22-year-old Army reservist was shot dead by an NYPD detective who thought he was reaching for a gun last year. His family is currently suing the city for the unjust murder.
27. Ramarley Graham
Police barged into the 18-year-old's home in August and killed him in his bathroom. The unarmed teen was targeted by the police when they believed he was in possession of narcotics. The officer who killed Graham will face no charges in the teen's death.
28. Marcos Arenas
Marcos Arenas was 15 when he was killed for his iPad in Las Vegas in May. While walking home from school, Arenas was approached by two men and later dragged by their SUV after he refused to give them his iPad. The two men have been arrested and charged with open murder, robbery and attempted robbery.
29. Steven Gregory Grich
Grich, a engineering student at Clemson State University, was murdered when four men broke into his off campus home and killed him.
30. Joshua Wood
The Houston native was just 16 when he was gunned down for his new Air Jordan sneakers he bought just minutes before.