Media Contact

media@nyclu.org, 212-607-3372

August 2, 2019

The judge presiding over the disciplinary trial of Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer who killed Eric Garner, recommended today that the officer be fired for his role in Garner’s death.

The final decision now lies with NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill who has no timeline to accept or reject the judge’s decision.

The NYCLU issued the following statement from Executive Director Donna Lieberman in response:

“With arms wrapped around his neck, Eric Garner uttered his last words, 'I can’t breathe,' more than five years ago. Since then, his family has been tirelessly searching for justice. While today’s decision is not the final verdict, it further cements what the public has called for: Daniel Pantaleo must face consequences for subjecting Garner to excessive and lethal force in violation of his sworn duty as an officer.

“The Commanding Officer in charge of training recruits at the Police Academy testified at the trial that she believed Pantaleo used an illegal chokehold, a potentially lethal use of force that is banned by the NYPD because the danger it poses cannot be justified in any setting, much less with an unarmed person in a non-violent situation.

“Pantaleo should never wear a police officer’s uniform ever again. But this case goes beyond just one officer. Commissioner O’Neill owes it to the Garner family and all of New York to ensure that this will never happen again. When an officer violates their own policies and kills a person they were sworn to protect, it should not take five years for any measure of accountability.

“If the NYPD wants to rebuild trust with the communities it serves, it must show the city of New York that police officers aren’t above the law.”

Stay informed

The New York Civil Liberties Union is a state affiliate of the ACLU

Learn more about ACLU National