The NYPD announced on Monday that it will allow disciplinary proceedings to go forward against a patrolman accused in the notorious chokehold death of an unarmed black man, saying it's run out of patience with federal authorities' indecision about whether to bring a criminal case. On the eve of the four-year anniversary of Eric Garner's killing, a pointed letter from the NYPD's top lawyer informed the US Department of Justice of an administrative case that could result in dismissal for the white officer, Daniel Pantaleo, because "there is no end in sight" to the federal probe. Typically, the department waits for federal prosecutors to conclude civil rights violations inquiries before taking action. But other probes have taken far less time than the case of a victim whose dying words, "I can't breathe," became a slogan for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Per the AP, police watchdog agency, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, will prosecute Panteleo under a memorandum of understanding with the NYPD, according to Byrne. In a statement, the DOJ said it already told the Police Department in the spring it could go forward and that the move "does not have any bearing on the decision-making timeline." A lawyer for Pantaleo, who's been on paid desk duty, declined comment on Monday. Pat Lynch, head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, called on DOJ to close its case but said that the officer deserves due process in the disciplinary process. The 43-year-old Garner, who was accused of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, was stopped by police on Staten Island on July 17, 2014, and refused to be handcuffed. Pantaleo is seen on a widely watched cell phone video putting Garner in an apparent chokehold, which is banned under NYPD policy.