NYPD Commander on Eric Garner's Death: 'Not a Big Deal'

Testimony brings gasps at officer's hearing
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2019 1:51 AM CDT
NYPD Commander on Eric Garner's Death: 'Not a Big Deal'
In this Thursday, May 9, 2019 photo, Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, speaks during a news conference after leaving court in New York.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

There were gasps at a hearing in New York City Thursday as a police commander was asked to read out the texts he had exchanged with a sergeant who was at the scene of the arrest that led to Eric Garner's death. After Sgt. Dhanan Saminath told Lt. Christopher Bannon that Garner went into cardiac arrest after officers took him down and was "most likely DOA," Bannon responded: "Not a big deal. We were effecting a lawful arrest." "Not a big deal" may now join "I can't breathe"—which Garner shouted 11 times after he was wrestled to the ground—as one of the "defining quotations" from the case, the New York Times reports. Garner, 43, was suspected of selling loose cigarettes.

Bannon was testifying at the disciplinary trial of Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who is accused of using a banned chokehold during the July 2014 arrest. Under cross-examination, Bannon said the text was an attempt to calm down an officer who had been put in a "bad situation." He said he was trying "to bring him down to a level where you put him at ease." He described Pantaleo as one of the best officers he has ever supervised. After the hearing, Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, told the Guardian that the messages were a "smack in the face." "For the officer to disregard a human life like that ... in other words it was business as usual," she said. "Leave him there, do what you want to do, go on about your business. That’s what it felt like to me," (Read more Eric Garner stories.)

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