On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner, a 43-year-old NY resident, was confronted by the NYPD for allegedly selling “untaxed” cigarettes.
That confrontation resulted in Garner’s death after NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo put the man in a chokehold.
Chokeholds are restraining maneuvers that cut off the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Due to the rising numbers of deaths of suspects in police custody, the NYPD was banned from using the move back in the early 1990s.
Witnesses caught the entire incident on video, but despite that, a grand jury decided that Pantaleo should not face criminal charges.
After Garner’s death, New York City fought to shield Pantaleo’s disciplinary records, reports The New York Times:
Concerned that a lack of basic information about the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, was keeping Mr. Garner’s family in the dark about whether more could have been done to prevent his death, the Legal Aid Society filed a lawsuit in early 2015 seeking the records under the state’s Freedom of Information Law.
That summer, a state judge in Manhattan ordered the release of a summary of misconduct findings against Officer Pantaleo. The city appealed the case, and the dispute has since lingered unresolved.
Three days ago, ThinkProgress reported that an anonymous source who said they worked at the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), an independent agency that receives and investigates complaints against NYPD officers, sent them Pantaleo’s disciplinary records:
The source did not disclose their name or identity to ThinkProgress, but four New York City attorneys told ThinkProgress the documents match the appearance of summaries of disciplinary proceedings before the CCRB. Two of these attorneys declined to have their names associated with the verification of the documents, citing fear that they would be associated with the leak.
The CCRB declined to comment on whether or not the documents were authentic when contacted by ThinkProgress, but when asked if a CCRB complaint number listed on the documents (CCRB# 201116562) was a real case, representatives confirmed that it was, adding that it had been closed.
Yesterday, it was revealed that the CCRB conducted an internal search for the source of the leak and that employee, described by a source as a low-level employee with less than a year at the board, was pressured to quit. City officials on Wednesday said the source of the leak could be terminated and brought up on criminal charges.
The agency also confirmed that the records, which showed that the officer faced no stronger punishment for abusing his authority than retraining and the loss of two vacation days, were authentic.
What the leaked records show is disturbing: the review board found enough evidence to substantiate four claims that Officer Pantaleo had abused his authority, two of them related to a 2012 street stop and the other two related to a vehicle stop and search in 2011.
All four incidents occurred prior to Pantaleo killing Garner.
“Someone should have taken a look at his record a long time ago,” Garner’s mother Gwen Carr said. “If they had done that maybe my son would still be alive.”
More, from Politico:
City Councilman Brad Lander said there was a “cruel irony” in the fate of the city employee who leaked confidential information about the New York Police Department officer involved in the death of Eric Garner: though he’s on modified duty, officer Daniel Pantaleo remains employed by the NYPD; the person who leaked a summary of Pantaleo’s disciplinary record, meanwhile, is now unemployed.
“There is a cruel irony in the fact that Eric Garner’s family is waiting years for Officer Pantaleo to be held accountable in any way, while this leak was resolved in one day,” Lander told POLITICO New York, while adding that it’s “not acceptable” for a city employee to leak confidential information.
Cynthia Conti-Cook, a staff lawyer for Legal Aid, which has been seeking to force the city to disclose details on officer discipline, told The New York Times the release of Officer Pantaleo’s records has exposed mayor Bill de Blasio’s conflicting messages on police transparency.
“They’re going to fire a C.C.R.B. leaker before they will fire a man who killed an unarmed man on duty as a police officer,” Ms. Conti-Cook said, referring to Officer Pantaleo, who remains on desk duty at the Police Department. “It’s pretty troubling.”
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