No Justice: Gwenn Carr, Eric Garner's Mom, Blasts De Blasio Delay in Action Against NYPD Killer Cop Pantaleo

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Officer Daniel Pantaleo, lynched Garner with chokehold. Photo: YouTube.

On the day that marks four years since Eric Garner was killed by NYPD officers on Staten Island, Garner’s mother was joined by elected officials and community supporters to demand the de Blasio administration immediately start disciplinary action against the officers responsible for the killing and its related misconduct. Specifically, they demanded that Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD immediately hold all of the multiple officers who used excessive force against Garner – not just Pantaleo – accountable by bringing them up on disciplinary charges and firing them.

They also demanded that the multiple NYPD officers who failed to intervene as Garner pleaded, “I can’t breathe” eleven times and those who participated in an effort to cover-up the killing through lies on official reports be immediately publicly identified and face the same fate. In making the demands, Garner’s mother described the letter sent yesterday by the NYPD to the Justice Department (DOJ) as an inadequate political distraction that continues unnecessary delay. The NYPD-imposed an artificial delay with a September date in the letter that is now entirely irrelevant, since DOJ has responded it has no problem with the NYPD disciplinary process moving forward.

“I’m tired of the de Blasio administration's delays and playing politics with the murder of my son, and yesterday’s NYPD letter is just another example,” said Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner. “Its vague rhetoric provides no action or commitment to hold all of the officers who used excessive force in the killing of my son and engaged in other misconduct related to it accountable. Multiple officers used force while Pantaleo used a chokehold banned by the NYPD for over 20 years, others did nothing to intervene as my son said he couldn't breathe 11 times, and other officers tried to cover it up on official reports afterwards. The fact is that four years after my son was murdered on video that the whole world saw, the de Blasio administration has failed to hold any of those multiple officers accountable and they have collectively gone on to make hundreds of thousands, if not over a million, dollars in taxpayer-funded salaries. The de Blasio administration has shown no commitment that it will provide full accountability, as it continues to allow the NYPD to conceal the names of the multiple other officers – beyond only two – who engaged in that misconduct.”

“Yesterday’s letter and the Justice Department response shows that the excuse that de Blasio and the NYPD have been using for not holding officers accountable is just that: a political excuse,” Carr continued.

"In fact, DOJ’s response makes very clear that there is nothing stopping the NYPD from acting immediately to discipline officers and there's no reason to wait until September, like NYPD’s letter laid out. Mayor de Blasio must stop the political games and ensure immediate action is taken to start the disciplinary process against all officers who killed my son and committed acts of misconduct related to it, so they are fired. That means ending the NYPD’s obstruction of CCRB from prosecuting Pantaleo and firing him, identifying and bringing disciplinary charges against and firing all officers who used excessive force, did nothing to intervene as my son pleaded for his life, lied on official reports and other misconduct.”

The specific demands Mrs. Carr and her supporters made of Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD include:

[] Immediately releasing the names of all officers who engaged in misconduct related to the killing of Eric Garner.

[] Immediately move forward with discipline proceedings against all of them – not wait until September.

[] Commit to letting the public know the outcomes of all discipline proceedings related to Garner’s killing and the attempted cover-up.

[] Commit to not allowing Pantaleo or any of the other officers to resign or leave with “good guy letters”, their guns, or any benefits that aren’t mandated by law.

The entire premise of the need to await DOJ action, advanced solely by the de Blasio administration, was called into question over the past four years by those pointing to recent history across the nation, past history in New York City, and statements by federal officials to the contrary. Local jurisdictions and departments are not required to wait for DOJ to move forward on disciplinary processes, and similar claims by the de Blasio administration have been disproven by federal officials.

The South Carolina police officer – Michael Slager – who killed Walter Scott in 2015 was fired by his police department before the federal government charged him with civil rights violations.

Roy Oliver, the Texas police officer who killed Jordan Edwards in April 2017, was fired by his department before it was announced that the Justice Department was investigating. The last time an NYPD officer was convicted by DOJ for violations in the killing of a civilian was after the 1994 chokehold killing of Anthony Baez by Officer Francis Livoti.

The NYPD conducted a disciplinary trial and fired Livoti before the DOJ acted, which the family attorney said contributed to the DOJ prosecution. The de Blasio administration and NYPD made a similar claim about the Justice Department requesting they not proceed with NYPD administrative, disciplinary processes related to officers involved in killing Ramarley Graham.

It led to delays of over five years, yet when Graham’s mother met with the Justice Department, former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and his staff were directly and specifically asked about this and they refuted these claims by the de Blasio administration.

The DOJ response yesterday to the NYPD letter indicated that they told the NYPD in the spring that there was no reason to hold off. It entirely calls into question the authenticity and substance of the NYPD letter, which already appeared to be an attempt to redirect media attention from the focus on NYPD’s four years of inaction on the four-year anniversary of Garner’s killing. The DOJ’s response effectively removes any excuse for the NYPD to defer action against the officers responsible for Eric Garner’s killing and related misconduct until September. September is indisputably an artificial constraint imposed by the NYPD – a repeated pattern of the de Blasio administration creating a rationale for inaction.

The effect of all this delay, besides putting Garner’s family through the process of having to fight for basic accountability for the past four years, is that all of these officers have continued to receive salaries and pay raises with taxpayer money. Collectively, they have received at least hundreds of thousands, if not over a million dollars in taxpayer-subsidized payments.

Pantaleo, who placed Garner in a chokehold banned by the NYPD for over 20 years while other officers used excessive force or failed to intervene, has himself received at least over $345,000 since he killed Garner, and the figure is likely closer to $500,000.

He received the largest paycheck since he’s been an NYPD officer last year - $120,128; figures for the past year are not yet publicly available. Even if he is fired or resigns, the last four years of NYPD inaction have effectively provided a boost to his pension payout, another common product of the NYPD’s dysfunctional disciplinary system. The same is likely true of other officers.

Even four years later in as high profile of a case as this, the NYPD has still only publicly identified two officers among the many who engaged in misconduct surrounding Garner’s killing. The de Blasio administration has allowed the department to conceal the names of the multiple other officers who used excessive force, failed to intervene, and lied on official police reports about the incident in an attempt to cover-up wrongdoing. Reporting by the New York Times makes clear that officers on the scene tried to cover up the use of force in their official reports of the incident.

The truth would not have become known by the public if it were not for video taken by a civilian. Despite the involvement of multiple officers, the NYPD has only publicly identified two officers – Pantaleo and Sergeant Kizzy Adonis. By keeping other officers’ names concealed, the NYPD is once again denying transparency to the family and public, undermining accountability for Garner’s killing and the misconduct related to it.

Garner was killed on Staten Island on July 17, 2014 after being placed in an NYPD-banned chokehold by Officer Daniel Pantaleo. Such a chokehold has been banned by the NYPD for over 20 years, and several other officers were on video using excessive force against him or doing nothing to intervene, as he pleaded for his life, saying “I Can’t Breathe” at least eleven times.

Despite nearly four years passing since Garner’s killing, the de Blasio administration and NYPD have done nothing to hold any of the officers accountable.

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