The infamous killing five years ago.
New York elected leaders and officials at rights organizations today praised the firing of New York Police Department officer Daniel Pantaleo in connection to his killing Eric Garner an innocent unarmed Black man five years ago with a chokehold.
“Commissioner O’Neill came to the right decision to fire Daniel Pantaleo. Finally. After five years of waiting, five years of pain, five years of justice delayed and denied, we have some action, providing a small semblance of justice deserved,” said Jumaane D. Williams, the Public Advocate.
“But the work needed to prevent these tragic incidents, to bring real accountability and transparency which will continue the push toward true community-police relationships in this city and around the country, is only beginning. Supporting our men and women in blue and demanding accountability are not mutually exclusive, and we must reject the voices of those who try to make us choose.”
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said, “The family of Eric Garner has been waiting five long years for justice. It is my hope that they get some peace and closure after today. The reality is that Eric Garner would still be alive were it not for Mr. Pantaleo’s actions, and while the system has failed Eric Garner’s family repeatedly for the past five years, at least the right thing was done today. I commend Police Commissioner James O’Neill for his decision to fire Mr. Pantaleo. Mr. Pantaleo does not belong in the NYPD, and I am glad to see that this is now the case.”
The Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams said, “It has been five years since our city was shaken to its core watching Eric Garner being killed on video from a police chokehold. After the Staten Island grand jury handed down their verdict, I stated that Officer Pantaleo should be terminated; today that termination has come to pass.”
Adams added: “Commissioner O’Neill’s decision was I believe the correct one. Police officers carry the authority to take away life and liberty; with that authority comes the highest standard of responsibility to utilize the full range of de-escalation tools at their disposal. There is still a lot of anger and pain, and for the Garner family and so many of their supporters it may never go away. But with today’s decision, I hope we can look forward and create a symbiotic relationship between law enforcement and the citizens they put their lives on the line to serve and protect. The pursuit of justice continues.”
Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said: “This termination was long overdue. I hope that the firing of Daniel Pantaleo provides a small measure of justice to Eric’s Garner family which has tirelessly pursued justice for the past 5 years. While the justice system failed to hold Pantaleo accountable, his continued service with the NYPD sent a dangerous message to communities of color that cops can kill with full impunity. This firing makes clear that Pantaelo’s actions warranted, at bare minimum, being stripped of the privilege of bearing a badge and gun. No doubt, the continuing calls for justice from the Garner family and activists across the country helped contribute to this outcome. Eric Garner’s death stands as a reminder about the important work that must be done to confront the use of deadly force against unarmed African Americans.”
In a statement, the Center for Constitutional Rights said: “This is a long overdue modicum of justice for Eric Garner’s family, five years after Mr. Garner’s unjust killing. Now the NYPD must hold the other officers involved accountable. Harm – including grave harm – by police officers is not merely a matter of individual bad actors. From a lack of transparency and accountability, to a culture of secrecy and ongoing biased policing, too many of the factors that led to Mr. Garner’s death and the injustice that followed remain. For Mr. Garner, his family, and all New Yorkers, we need wholesale cultural change within the police department and to move forward with reforms. The Center for Constitutional Rights successfully sued the NYPD over the department’s racially discriminatory use of stop-and-frisk in the landmark class action suit Floyd v. City of New York, and continues to work with affected communities to implement reforms ordered by the court to reform the NYPD’s unconstitutional practices.”