Eric Garner's family, fired officer both vow to keep fighting after NYPD decision




 

The family of Eric Garner vowed Tuesday to continue its fight for justice as the New York City police officer fired for placing Garner in a chokehold said he'd appeal the decision.

NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill announced Monday that officer Daniel Pantaleo would be dismissed five years after the incident that led to Garner's death.

Garner, who was black, died after being placed in the chokehold by Pantaleo, who is white, outside a Staten Island convenience store. Garner repeatedly shouted "I can't breathe," which later became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Garner's son, Eric Garner Jr., told NY1 Tuesday morning he wants to see Pantaleo in jail.

"It had been a long five years, and we're still gonna fight," he said. Garner Jr. also said it a "relief" when he heard O'Neill's decision.

"What Commissioner O'Neill did was what every public official should do in his situation," Garner family attorney Jonathan Moore said on the news program.

Moore said the family would turn to advocating for a state law to make chokeholds illegal and calling for administrative reviews within the police department for the other officers involved in the case.

"Their role in this should still be examined from a disciplinary standpoint," he said.

The calls echo those of Garner's daughter, Emerald Snipes Garner, on Monday. Snipes Garner praised the decision to fire Pantaleo but said more needs to be done to hold other officers accountable in the case and improve policing practices.

"I should not be here standing with my brother, fatherless," Snipes Garner said. She thanked O'Neill for "doing the right thing" but said Pantaleo should have been fired five years ago.

NYPD union chief: Commissioner 'cringing in fear' by firing officer in Eric Garner death

Snipes Garner said she wants congressional hearings and will continue to push to have a criminal case reopened.

Pantaleo was never charged, but Snipes Garner said she believes some officers lied to a state grand jury and provided conflicting accounts about what happened the day her father died.

Garner, 43, was accused of illegally selling single cigarettes outside the convenience store when officers attempted to arrest him in a struggle captured on video. Garner gasped repeatedly that he could not breathe after Pantaleo and other officers knocked him to the ground.

Garner's death was rule a homicide and an autopsy report said the chokehold was in part what caused his death.

California: New California law tightens rules for police use of force to only when necessary

O'Neill said Pantaleo was correct when he initially used the chokehold, but that when Garner was under control he should have switched to a "less lethal" alternative.

However, he also said that "had I been in Officer Pantaleo's situation, I may have made similar mistakes."

"But none of us can take back our decisions, particularly when they result in the death of another human being."

Pantaleo will not receive a pension as a result of the decision, though he will be repaid what he put into the fund. Stuart London, the ex-officer's lawyer, said Monday that he expects to appeal the decision and go to court for Pantaleo's job.

Pantaleo had been on desk duty when a departmental trial judge recommended earlier this month that the 13-year department veteran be fired.

The decision to fire Pantaleo also drew the ire of the police union. Patrolman's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch called Pantaleo an "exemplary" officer and said police "leadership has abandoned ship and left our police officers on the street alone, without backing."

"It's absolutely essential that the world know that the New York City Police Department is rudderless and frozen," he said.

Lynch also called for a no-confidence vote on the commissioner and mayor.

Mayor Bill de Blasio had praised O'Neill's decision, saying "justice has been done."

"Our officers are here to protect us, to keep us safe, and yet we watch a man die, (and) so many people ask 'What if that was my brother right there in that situation, what if it was my son, what if that was my father, what if that was me?" de Blasio said.

Moore, the Garner family attorney, said on NY1 that Lynch's comments put "people at risk on the street" and called on police union leaders to step down.

Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, put it plainly: "Pantaleo, you may have lost your job, but I lost a son."

Contributing: John Bacon and the Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Eric Garner family, Daniel Pantaleo vow to fight as NYPD fires officer

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