Mayor Bill De Blasio Must Fire Daniel Pantaleo, Eric Garner's Killer

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Mayor de Blasio -- fire Pantaleo

[Black Star News Editorial]

On July 17, 2014, Ramsey Orta shot the video that showed Daniel Pantaleo, a White officer on the New York Police Department (NYPD) sneak up from behind Eric Garner, an unarmed Black Man, lock his neck in a lynch-hold, and strangle him to death.

The video shot by Orta went viral.

Not only was Pantaleo not indicted for the killing of Garner on Staten Island, nine months after the incident he remains a member of the NYPD.

On Saturday, April 4, Fiedin Santana shot the video showing Michael Slager, firing eight times into the back of Walter Scott, an unarmed Black man as he fled from him. The video shot by Santana went viral. Almost immediately, Slager was arrested and charged with murder.

The actions against the officers, in New York City and North Charleston, contrast sharply.

Yet, there are similarities in terms of the respective Police Departments' initial actions in the aftermath of both the Garner and the Scott killings. The police tried to cover up the true nature of the officers' actions by feeding misleading information to the public through the news media.

The initial story peddled by the NYPD on July 17 --including to The New York Times which published the account-- suggested that obesity played the primary role in the death of Garner, who was 43 at the time. The police department wanted to mislead the public; there wasn't even mention of the lynch-hold in The New York Times' initial story.

The police spin could have worked had Orta's video not emerged.

Similarly, the police department in North Charleston, S. Carolina, tried to sell an elaborate ruse. According to the initial version of the incident, Slager pulled Scott over for a broken tail light and he ran away. Slager pursued him behind the warehouse, where the "suspect" then took the cop's Taser, forcing him to fire in self-defense.

Speaking for the benefit of officers who would presumably be listening and recording his voice over police radio, Slager even conveniently stated: "Shots fired and the subject is down. He took my Taser."

But the Santana video exposed the lie.  Scott was fleeing from Slager and was already several yards away when the policeman calmly took aim and methodically fired eight times into his back hitting him five times.

Slager is even heard telling Scott, again presumably for the benefit of other officers listening in, to put his hands behind him. He handcuffs Scott, whom by then he knew was dead. Slager is shown running back to collect the Taser, returning, and dumping it next to Scott's body; evidence-planting, in plain view of a Black officer, Clarence W. Habersham Jr., who had by then arrived on the scene, and, later never challenged Slager's lie.

The recordings, in New York City and in North Charleston, also shows the depraved indifference towards the lives of the Black victims by the White officers.

In the Orta video, towards the end, Pantaleo, who knows he is being recorded, is seen waving jokingly at the phone camera, right after he had just killed Garner.

In North Charleston, it wasn't the Santana video, but a separate recording first reported on by The Guardian showed Slager's depraved indifference towards the life that he had just extinguished in cold-blood. Shortly after killing Scott, Slager spoke with a supervisor who told him that he wouldn't be questioned immediately about details of the incident and that would give him time for the "adrenaline" to slow down. When the supervisor then asks Slager whether the adrenaline was still high, he laughs, callously, and confirms that it was.

The Police Department in North Charleston, when caught red-handed did the right thing by arresting and firing Slager; he shouldn't be allowed to elude conviction through spin.

In New York City, there is absolutely no reason why Pantaleo should remain on the NYPD. In fact, failure to fire him gave him unwarranted benefit of the doubt, when there was in fact non based on the video evidence, thereby contributing to his non-indictment.

Also, Pantaleo should not have even been on the NYPD and involved on any patrol duty on July 17, 2014 when he killed Garner, judging by his ugly record. There had already been at least three lawsuits against Pantaleo for alleged violation of the constitutional rights of Black males.

In one case, Rylawn Walker alleged that Pantaleo and other officers arrested him falsely for alleged marijuana possession on Staten Island in February 2012. The case against Walker was later dismissed and sealed on a motion by Staten Island prosecutors, according to a defense lawyer Michael Colihan.

In another case, Kenneth Collins alleged that Pantaleo and other officers arrested him falsely on alleged marijuana possession in February 2012 and that he was the victim of "a degrading search of his private parts and genitals by the defendants.." The drug charges were also reportedly dismissed and sealed one day after the arrest.

In the third case, Darren Collins and Tommy Rice allege that during a March 2012 arrest, after handcuffing them, Pantaleo and other officers subjected them to "humiliating and unlawful strip searches in public view" including of their genitals. Charges against the men were dismissed and New York City later settled with them.

Mayor Bill de Blasio should order Police Commissioner Bill Bratton to fire Pantaleo.


Please sign a petition calling on the Mayor to fire Eric Garner's killer.




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