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Eric Garner

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Daniel Pantaleo, The New York City Police Department officer who placed Eric Garner in a chokehold moments before his death five years ago, will be fired, according to NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill.

Officer Daniel Pantaleo was caught on camera placing what is widely known as a banned chokehold on Garner. Garner screamed numerous times that he “could not breathe” despite these cries, Pantaleo never released his chokehold. The phrase “I can’t breathe” became a battle cry for Black Live Matter protests against police brutality.

“I can tell you that had I been in Officer Pantaleo’s situation, I may have made similar mistakes,” said O’Neill, who served as a uniform officer for more than three decades. “But none of us can take back our decisions, particularly when they result in the death of another human being.”

Following the death of Garner, an autopsy revealed his death was caused in part by the chokehold and was thereby ruled a homicide. O’Neill said that Pantaleo was correct when he initially used the chokehold, but agrees he should have released to a “less lethal” alternative once Garner was controlled.

On August 2nd, a departmental trial judge recommended Pantaleo, a 13-year veteran be fired by the department. “Mr. Garner was somebody’s son, somebody’s dad,” O’Neill said. “Everybody in the NYPD understands that.”

The decision drew fire from police union President Patrick Lynch, who accused O’Neill of choosing “politics and his own self-interest over the police officers he claims to lead.”

O’Neill admitted that if he was a police officer he would probably no be happy, but said “when people call 911, or flag them down, they won’t think about this decision.”