NYPD judge recommends firing officer in Eric Garner death


An NYPD judge recommended firing the officer accused of using a banned chokehold in the July 2014 death of Eric Garner, bring some measure of closure to a nationally influential case that local and federal officials all declined to criminally prosecute.

On Friday, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado ruled that Mr Pantaleo had used a chokehold - which is banned by the police department - despite his repeated denials that the strangle move had not been employed.

"Today is one of the saddest and most damaging days in the history of New York City and the New York City Police Department", Lynch said. Federal prosecutors said they did not have enough evidence that the officer acted "willfully" to use more force than he thought was necessary - a legal standard for filing federal civil rights charges.

Pat Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association of the City of NY, described the recommendation to terminate Pantaleo as "pure political insanity" that will "paralyze the NYPD for years to come".

The internal police process comes to a head just weeks after Attorney General William Barr declined to bring federal charges against the embattled officer.

The decision on whether or not to terminate Mr Pantaleo - who has been excoriated in the city's black and hispanic communities and by Democratic presidential candidates - now falls to Police Commissioner James P O'Neill.

The mayor responded that there would "be justice, I have confidence in that".

Pantaleo's lawyer will have about two weeks to submit responses before Police Commissioner James O'Neill makes a final decision on punishment.

The seven-day departmental trial, which began in May, was not a criminal proceeding but a matter before an NYPD administrative judge.

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Pantaleo is accused of placing Eric Garner in a chokehold while arresting him in 2014, ultimately leading to his death.

The head of the Police Benevolent Association, the city's largest police union, called the judge's recommendation "purely political insanity" and warned that if O'Neill fires Pantaleo it will paralyze the department.

Last week Garner's five-year-old daughter called for justice.

Walzak said O'Neill was aware of media reports regarding the findings but hasn't been provided a copy, in keeping with the department's disciplinary process. Pantaleo has been on administrative duty since Garner's death in 2014.

In 2015, New York City paid a $5.9 million settlement to Garner's family to avoid a civil lawsuit.

The civil rights leader spoke Friday after the judge gave his recommendation that Officer Daniel Pantaleo be fired. The New York City medical examiner determined that his death had been caused by "compression of neck (chokehold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police".

At the time, Richard Donoghue, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of NY, acknowledged Garner's death was a tragedy but said investigators couldn't prove that Pantaleo willfully used excessive force.

Garner was pulled to the ground by police during an arrest for selling loose cigarettes in July 2014.