A New York administrative judge recommended that Daniel Pantaleo, the New York City police officer at the center of Eric Garner’s July 2014 death case, should be fired from the department, sources said Friday.
Now it is up to the city’s police commissioner whether Pantaleo will keep his job, a decision the department said will come this month.
The NYPD announced that the officer has been suspended effective Friday in keeping with longstanding practice when there is a recommendation for firing.
News of the finding by the judge, who is deputy commissioner of trials for the NYPD, was applauded by Garner’s family.
“This has been a long battle. Five years too long. And finally, someone has said this cop has done something wrong,” Garner’s daughter, Emerald Garner Snipes, said at a news conference following news of the recommendation.
She called on New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill to “do your job” and fire Pantaleo.
“We don’t want to wait no more. Make your decision, Mr. O’Neill, as soon as possible,” she said.
Pantaleo, who was seen in cellphone footage from the July 2014 incident with his arm around Garner’s neck as the unarmed black man repeatedly said “I can’t breathe,” had previously been on administrative duty since the death.
“All of New York City understandably seeks closure to this difficult chapter in our City’s history,” the NYPD said in a statement, adding that it would not comment further until the commissioner makes the final determination.
The head of the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board also urged O’Neill to “uphold this verdict and dismiss Pantaleo.”
“Today’s decision confirms what the Civilian Complaint Review Board always maintained: Officer Daniel Pantaleo committed misconduct on July 17, 2014, and his actions caused the death of Eric Garner,” a statement read.
The city’s police union leader meanwhile derided the judge’s recommendation as “pure political insanity.”
“If it is allowed to stand, it will paralyze the NYPD for years to come,” Patrick J. Lynch, president of the city’s Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association said in a statement. He said the judge “ignored evidence” and “trampled” on Pantaleo’s rights in order to deliver a recommendation that “politicians and protesters demanded.”