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Judge on Eric Garner Cop: 'Self-Serving,' 'Untruthful'

Court opinion on Daniel Pantaleo says his story on chokehold is 'implausible'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2019 6:21 AM CDT
In this May 13, 2019, file photo, NYPD police officer Daniel Pantaleo leaves his house in Staten Island, NY.   (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, File)

(Newser) – Earlier this month, a judge passed down her recommendation that Daniel Pantaleo—the NYPD cop accused of putting Eric Garner in the chokehold that killed him—be fired. Now the New York Times has gotten its hands on the nearly 50-page court opinion from Judge Rosemarie Maldonado, and she doesn't hold back on what she thinks of Pantaleo's story that he wasn't responsible for the 2014 death. "Untruthful," "self-serving," and "implausible" are just some of the adjectives Maldonado uses to describe Pantaleo's interview with internal police investigators, in which he insisted he hadn't used a chokehold on Garner, prompting Garner's cries of "I can't breathe" and giving the Black Lives Matter movement national momentum. Pantaleo's lawyers and union officials say he used an authorized "seatbelt hold" and that Garner's health issues led to his death, per PIX11.

New York City's medical examiner said Garner's death was indeed a homicide caused by a chokehold, and Maldonado noted in her opinion that the evidence for Pantaleo executing that chokehold, despite being trained not to, was "overwhelming," based on both Garner's autopsy and on video evidence. Pantaleo's use of that prohibited move "fell so far short of objective reasonableness that this tribunal found it to be reckless—a gross deviation from the standard of conduct" for NYPD officers, Maldonado said, adding she found other cops' testimony in Pantaleo's defense to be "unhelpful or unreliable." Still, Maldonado cleared Pantaleo of strangulation, as she said she didn't believe he meant to kill Garner. Police Commissioner James O'Neill is set to decide on the fate of the 34-year-old officer, who has been on desk duty since 2014 and suspended since Aug. 2, by the end of this month. (Read more Eric Garner stories.)

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