New York, NY, United States (4E) – A New York Police Department (NYPD) officer was relieved Saturday after he allegedly choked to death a man he was trying to arrest on Thursday while four EMS volunteers who allegedly failed to perform CPR on the victim after he passed out were placed on modified duty.
The Department took the gun and shield of Daniel Pantaleo while he is investigated for the death of Eric Garner, 43. Another officer with Pantaleo during the deadly arrest and the EMS workers from Richmond University Medical Center were put on modified duty; their names were not revealed.
Pantaleo has been with the NYPD for eight years and was assigned to a plainclothes team in the 120th Precinct, which covers the northern tip of Staten Island. He was videoed on a cellphone camera by a bystander putting his arms around Garner’s neck to arrest the bigger man for illegally selling a cigarette on a sidewalk in Tompkinsville. NYPD banned officers from using chokehold more than 20 years ago.
In the video, Garner was arguing with the two police officers before Pantaleo used wrapped his arms around his neck to bring him down and handcuff him. Garner was heard saying, “I can’t breathe” repeatedly as Pantaleo continued the chokehold while the victim was crawling forward. Garner, who is obese and asthmatic, died of cardiac arrest in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
The video also showed the EMS workers arriving at the scene but not giving Garner CPR to revive him.
An angry public rallied at a Staten Island church and marched to the spot where Garner died on Saturday. The demonstrators, who included Garner’s family and relatives, demanded justice for his death.
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association is defending Pantaleo and criticized NYPD for relieving him. Association president Patrick J. Lynch accused the department of prejudging the case and denying Pantaleo the benefit of the doubt.
The city’s medical examiner’s office has yet to release the result of its autopsy on Garner.
Meanwhile, the Civilian Complaint Review Board is studying more than 1,000 complaints against police for allegedly using chokeholds to determine why the practice persists.