Eric Garner’s Death “Not A Big Deal” Says NYPD Supervisor Who Worked With Killer-Cop Daniel Pantaleo

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["Speaking Truth To Empower"]
Eric Garner: choked to death by Officer Daniel Pantaleo, and NYPD's racist quota policing policy...
Photo: Facebook screenshot

NYPD Lt. Christopher Bannon said Garner's death was "not a big deal."

On Thursday, the biggest news coming from the administrative trial of Officer Daniel Pantaleo, was the revelation that his NYPD supervisor said Garner’s death was “not a big deal.”

This revolting—but not surprising—revelation was exposed during Lt. Christopher Bannon’s testimony at Pantaleo’s administrative trial. Lt. Bannon made his inhumane comments in text messages between himself and Sgt. Dhanan Saminath, who was at the scene of Garner’s killing.

The killing of innocent Blacks is indeed “not a big deal” to police, prosecutors, and pretensive professional politicians. They all bless the bloodletting of Blacks with their continued shameful silence.

The hideous comments of Lt. Christopher Bannon came to light during his Thursday testimony, in the Daniel Pantaleo disciplinary trial. On July 17, 2014, Sgt. Dhanan Saminath texted police commander Lt. Bannon to inform him of the possible death of Eric Garner. The heartless reply of Bannon speaks volumes to the utter disrespect police have for Black lives.

Sgt. Saminath first messaged Lt. Bannon telling him “Danny [Pantaleo] and Justin [Damico]went to collar Eric Garner and he resisted. When they took him down, Eric went into cardiac arrest. He’s unconscious. Might be DOA.” Bannon responds, “For the smokes?” Saminath replies “Yeah, they observed him selling. Then Danny tried to grab him. They both went down. They called the bus ASAP. He’s most likely DOA. He has no pulse.’’ To this, Lt. Bannon says, “O.K., keep me posted. I’m still here.”

Not long after, Bannon sent another text saying, “Not a big deal. We were effecting a lawful arrest.”

Even assuming, for a minute, that this was “a lawful arrest,” any loss of life should be seen as a big deal to “peace officers” who are supposedly there to “protect and serve.” However, this is just one more piece of evidence illustrating the deadly disregard police have for Black lives. When commanding officers behave this way, how can we expect better from the rank-and-file?

Lt. Bannon was asked, by prosecutor Suzanne O’Hare, to explain his inhumane comments. “My reasoning,” Bannon said, “was not to be malicious. It’s to make sure the officer knew he was put in a bad situation.” O’Hare then asked him “Would you agree that Eric Garner was put in a bad situation?” Bannon responded, “I don’t know how to answer that.”

Bannon’s answer tells us Garner’s death didn’t concern him at all. Here we also see another manifestation of the routine manner in which police cover-up for criminal killer-cops. Because, we have Bannon excusing the conduct of Pantaleo without investigating anything.

Lt. Bannon claims “Officer Pantaleo was one of the best officers I’ve supervised” because “On a scale of zero to five, he was a 5.0.” He says this even though we now know Pantaleo had more complaints noted against him that 95 percent of the other NYPD officers. Leaked documents—by a former Civilian Complain Review Board (CCRB)—documents 14 individual allegations against Pantaleo, along with seven disciplinary charges. Most are apparently related to him committing various acts of assault.

Pantaleo’ record reflects that he is “one of the best officers” when it come to brutalizing Blacks in New York City.

Usually, when PBA President Patrick Lynch opens his mouth, on issues where NYPD officers unjustly kill Black people, nothing but nonsense comes out. However, Mr. Lynch made a very important point recently, exposing the hypocrisy of NYPD brass, like Police Commissioner James O’Neill.

“The arrest of Eric Garner was the result of a chain of decisions originating at the very highest levels of the NYPD,” Lynch said. “Police officers who enforce quality of life offenses are not cowboys or free agents—they follow the direction of their supervisors.”

There is significant truth to what Lynch said here, though he seems to have forgotten Garner was killed. I’ve said many times before the killing of Eric Garner was a result of policing policy—and the NYPD’s racist quota driven nature. Other victims of NYPD murder, like Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo, were put on collision courses with police because of the pressure on officers to fulfill quotas. Lynch isn’t incorrect to insinuate that Garner’s death “was the result of a chain of decisions originating at the very highest levels of the NYPD.”

Garner’s blood is indeed on the hands of NYPD supervisors, like Lt. Bannon—and all those who institute racist policing policy in New York City. This also speaks to the conspiracy of silence regarding denouncing the police killings and murders of innocent Black people. This conspiracy of silence involves not just high-ranking police but politicians as well.

Here we should talk a bit about so-called “progressive” politicians, like Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Mr. de Blasio was first elected in 2013, largely, on the turnout of Black and Latino voters. A central centerpiece of his platform was changing the way Blacks, and Latinos, were policed. But when de Blasio hired Bill Bratton, to be the New York City Police Commissioner, that was the first signal he would backslide on his promises. It was Bratton who first introduced the racist stop-and-frisk practice, in New York City, during his first tenure as police commissioner, under Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

How could a self-described “progressive” hire someone like Bratton, who already had a history of racial policing in New York? Did de Blasio do this to appease those White New Yorkers who were fearful a Black crime wave would flood New York City under his mayoralty?

When Ismaaiyl Brinsley killed officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, in Brooklyn, on Dec. 20, 2014, many NYPD officers blamed de Blasio. At the funerals, of these officers, many police protested by turning their backs on de Blasio. Ironically, these officers were allowed to disrespect him—while Bratton did nothing about. In fact, Bratton claimed the killing of the officers were “a direct spin-off,” of those who were protesting the police killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. Mayor de Blasio, who failed New York City’s Black communities, with his broken policing promises, is now running for the American Presidency.

Nearly two months ago, the Black Star News emailed most—Beto O’Rourke is an exception—of the, then, major Democratic candidates running for president, in 2020. We wanted them to state their policy positions in regard to changing institutional racism in American policing.

To date, only Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has responded. Senator Warren sent us a copy of her September 27, 2015 speech at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. In it she noted that police “violence against African-Americans has not disappeared.” She also talked about “the names of those whose lives have been treated with callous indifference. Sandra Bland. Freddie Gray. Michael Brown.”

Professional politicians, with presidential aspirations, are now hoping we’re so focused on getting Donald Trump out of the White House, that we will forget their failures. Isn’t it outrageous political candidates expect to get Black votes without outlining their plans for changing the racist way in which Black America is policed? The shameful cowardice of our elected officials must be challenged.

Because, while these unprincipled politicians remain silent our people are continually being brutalized—and murdered. Just two days before Daniel Pantaleo’s NYPD disciplinary trial started, an officer in Norristown, Pennsylvania, was caught on camera choking 14-year-old Imarah Bates. Thankfully, she survived. Then Monday, when Pantaleo’s trial started, 44-year-old Pamela Turner was murdered—in cold blood—in Baytown, Texas, by an unknown Texas police officer. Turner’s murder was captured in gruesome detail by a bystander video.

Those seeking Black America’s votes must be forced to speak out against these ongoing police atrocities that bring so many Black families death and devastation.

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