NYPD files charges against officer in Eric Garner death

The charges were presented to Officer Daniel Pantaleo after the NYPD told the DOJ that they planned to move on the case

By Mira Wassef
Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo, 33, who was involved in Eric Garner's death, was served with departmental charges Friday, a law enforcement source told the Advance.

While police would not say what charges Pantaleo is facing, sources told the Daily News the charge is using a chokehold to subdue a suspect.

Sgt. Kizzy Adonis, who was the supervisor at the scene, has not been formally charged yet, said the source.

The NYPD announced Thursday that it would immediately begin the disciplinary process against two officers in the case.

"I wish they had put disciplinary action against all of them that were involved," said Rev. Al Sharpton during a rally Saturday at National Action Network in Harlem. "We want justice for Eric Garner."

The Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) will lead the case regarding Pantaleo, and the NYPD Department Advocate will handle the Adonis case, a department spokesman said.

Pantaleo's departmental trial may start this fall.

During his rally, Sharpton encouraged Garner supporters to attend the proceeding, saying the community leaders should make their presence felt to demand justice for the family.

"I think it's a slow form of justice," said a Tompkinsville business owner who was friends with Garner. "It took too long, but maybe federal charges will finally come now."

The NYPD sent a letter last week to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), informing it that the NYPD planned to move on the Pantaleo case. The letter said those proceedings would begin "on or promptly after September 1, 2018" against the officers.

But on Wednesday, the DOJ told the NYPD that it had no objection with it moving forward with the disciplinary process.

After being informed that the DOJ had released the hold in the investigation, the CCRB said Thursday that its Administrative Prosecution Unit (APU) will move forward with its prosecution.

The CCRB determined last year that Pantaleo used a banned chokehold during the incident. 

Pantaleo has been on desk duty since the incident four years ago.

Garner, 43, died when cops attempted to arrest him for allegedly selling loose cigarettes in Tompkinsville on July 17, 2014.

Video taken by witness Ramsey Orta showed Pantaleo wrestle Garner to the ground while Garner could be heard repeatedly shouting "I can't breathe."

The city's medical examiner ruled Garner's death a homicide, determining that he died from "compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police."

His weight and pre-existing medical conditions -- acute and chronic bronchial asthma and hypertensive cardiovascular disease -- also contributed to his death, the medical examiner's report stated.

The Department of Justice commenced a civil rights investigation after a grand jury on Staten Island declined to files charges against Pantaleo in December of that year.

The DOJ has not yet brought civil charges, reportedly because some officials are hesitant about proceeding with the case.

Pantaleo's lawyer, Stuart London, could not immediately be reached Saturday.

©2018 Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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