Tuesday marked the fourth anniversary of Eric Garner’s death at the hands of NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, whose illegal (and unnecessary) chokehold killed the 43-year-old father of six after officers confronted Garner for selling loose cigarettes. Everyone involved escaped indictment, but this week, the choking officer and his supervisor were served with departmental charges.
A grand jury declined to indict choking officer Daniel Pantaleo, or his sergeant, Kizzy Adonis, who declined to intervene, sparking global protests in December 2014. Anyone who’s seen the video will never forget Garner’s cries of “I can’t breathe.” Those final words quickly became a Black Lives Matter rally cry for activists around the world, demanding immediate police reform and increased accountability (or any accountability, honestly), and an end to the senseless violence and abuses of power that law enforcement constantly and openly inflicts on the black community.
On Thursday, four years and two days after the NYPD took Garner’s life, a modicum of justice was served: Pantaleo and Adonis are finally facing a trial.
Pantaleo faces two separate charges — for use of a chokehold and for restricting the man’s breathing, said an NYPD official with knowledge of the investigation.
Adonis, a supervisor and one of the first officers to respond, also faces departmental charges for alleged procedural infractions, city officials said.
The timing, of course, of these small potato charges—that, honestly, don’t even begin to demand accountability from Garner’s killer and those who helped him—is quite suspect. At a City Hall rally to commemorate the last day of Garner’s life, his mother, Gwen Hall, demanded justice for her son—again.
“The (NYC mayor Bill) de Blasio administration should never have waited for four years or until September because the idea that NYPD couldn’t have acted before DOJ has always been a lie,” Carr said in a statement, adding that she wanted all the officers seen in the video to be disciplined — not just Pantaleo and Adonis.
The United States Department of Justice immediately issued a statement, claiming that the city was told months ago to pursue charges against Pantaleo and Adonis. The city denies this, and reached out to the DOJ to confirm the statement.
Only then were charges filed.
Both Pantaleo and Adonis remain employed by NYPD, though if found guilty, Pantaleo could face termination.
The proceedings are expected to begin sometime in early 2019.