It has been five years since an unarmed Eric Garner was choked to death by New York Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo for allegedly selling “loose” cigarettes illegally. After years of virtually no movement of the scales of justice, Pantaleo was finally suspended from duty at the beginning of August. This came hours after a NYPD administrative judge officially recommended that Pantaleo be terminated from duty.
It is finally being reported that after all of those protests, after all the calls for justice, and the t-shirts reading “I can’t breathe” (Eric Garner’s dying words and the words that fueled the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement), Daniel Pantaleo has been terminated from his position as a New York police officer. Police commissioner James P. O’Neill told reporters that “The unintended consequence of Mr. Garner’s death must have a consequence of its own. Therefore I agree with the deputy commissioner of trial’s legal findings and recommendations. It is clear that Daniel Pantaleo can no longer effectively serve as a New York City police officer.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has taken heat over the past couple of months for his lack of action on the Eric Garner matter, said he felt that justice had been done. Protests have not stopped since Garner died in July 2014, but had come back into the national conversation a couple of weeks ago during the Democratic primary debates held in Detroit. Mayor de Blasio’s opening remarks were interrupted by protesters inside of the debate, and then Julián Castro received the most passionate applause of the night when he slammed the mayor’s inaction on the case.
Of course, not everyone is happy that a police officer who choked a man to death over a loose cigarette has lost his job. Patrick J. Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association, said this decision is an attack on all police officers and released a statement saying police officers needed to be careful now that they can’t choke people to death for selling loose cigarettes, with virtually no consequences.
Garner’s family and others have pointed out that besides Pantaleo not facing any other serious consequences, Sgt. Kizzy Adonis, the first supervising officer to arrive on the scene, has received no disciplinary action.
Rest in power, Eric Garner.