The New York City Police Department (NYPD) on Monday dismissed Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer involved in the 2014 chokehold death of Eric Garner.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill’s announced at a midday news conference that he had fired Pantaleo based on a recent recommendation of a department disciplinary judge. He said it was clear that Pantaleo “can no longer effectively serve as a New York City police officer.”
“None of us can take back our decisions,” the police chief said, “especially when they lead to the death of another human being.”
“I’ve been a cop a long time, and if I was still a cop, I’d probably be mad at me,” he added.
O’Neill had been deliberating on whether to accept a disciplinary judge’s recommendation to fire Pantaleo for using a banned chokehold on Garner.
Garner is heard on bystander video crying out “I can’t breathe” at least 11 times before he falls unconscious.
A state grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo in 2014.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has declined to say whether he believes Garner should lose his job but has been promising “justice” to the slain man’s family.
In July, the Department of Justice said it will not file federal civil rights charges against the NYPD officer involved in Garner’s death.
Pantaleo has maintained that he used a legal takedown maneuver called the “seatbelt” on Garner.
“He was a ticking time bomb and set these facts in motion by resisting arrest,” Stuart London, a lawyer for Pantaleo, said earlier this year.
“[Pantaleo] has been characterized as an overly aggressive officer with a history of this sort of behavior, and nothing can be further from the truth,” said London. “This was a regular patrolman doing regular police work.”
The New York Police Benevolent Association ripped the decision to fire the officer, saying in a statement: “Police Commissioner O’Neill has made his choice: he has chosen politics and his own self-interest over the police officers he claims to lead.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.