(NEW YORK) — The administrative judge who oversaw the departmental trial of NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo blamed him for a “glaring dereliction of responsibility that precipitated a tragic outcome” – the death of Eric Garner.
The judge, Deputy Commissioner Rosemarie Maldonado recommended earlier this month that Pantaleo be dismissed from the NYPD after she found him guilty of recklessly causing Eric Garner physical injury, but not guilty of strangulation with intent to impede breathing. Judge Maldonado also said Pantaleo was “untruthful,” and “self-serving” during the course of the investigation.
The final decision of Pantaleo’s employment rests with New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill, who is expected to issue his decision as soon as Monday.
“There is overwhelming evidence that Respondent. used a prohibited choke hold, as defined by the 2014 Patrol Guide,” Maldonado wrote in a 46-page decision, adding that Pantaleo’s denial that he used a chokehold was “both implausible and self-serving.”
When Pantaleo told investigators he did not use a chokehold, Maldonado called those statements “untruthful” and “disingenuous.” Rather, she said, Pantaleo “knew of the grave risks associated with prohibited chokeholds, and that by using one under these circumstances, he engaged in a gross deviation from the standard of conduct established for a New York City police officer.”
Chokeholds have been banned by the NYPD since 1993.
While the chokehold itself did not kill Eric Garner, Maldonado wrote that the “chokehold was a significant factor in triggering the asthma attack that contributed to Mr. Garner’s death.”
However, Pantaleo’s conduct lacked intent, the departmental judge found.
“Even though [Pantaleo] recklessly used a prohibited chokehold, the evidence was insufficient to prove that he did it with the intent of obstructing Mr. Garner’s breathing,” she wrote.
Maldonado also wrote in her decision that Garner was not blameless.
“Whatever Mr. Garner’s objective, it is clear that for at least four minutes into the recorded portion of the encounter, and at least one minute prior to that, he refused to cooperate with the arrest and comply with lawful orders,” Maldonado wrote.
“From the outset Mr. Garner was non-compliant and argumentative,” the decision reads, and while officers are permitted to use reasonable force to take an uncooperative suspect into custody they are not allowed to use a chokehold.
“There is only one appropriate penalty for the grave misconduct that yielded an equally grave result – [Pantaleo] can no longer remain a New York City police officer,” Maldonado wrote.
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