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Feds Expected To Announce Whether Officer Will Face Charges In Eric Garner’s Chokehold Death – CBS New York


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Federal prosecutors are expected to announce today whether NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo will face charges in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

Tomorrow marks five years since Garner’s death. It’s also the deadline for the U.S. Department of Justice to make its decision.

Pantaleo is accused of placing Garner in a chokehold back while attempting to arrest him for selling loose cigarettes back in 2014 on Staten Island.

A grand jury declined to indict the officer on criminal charges.

Then, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder launched a federal civil rights investigation, which remains open. Federal authorities have until tomorrow to decide if Pantaleo and others involved in the arrest will face charges.

If the feds decide not to proceed, Police Commissioner James O’Neill is expected to decide Pantaleo’s fate with the NYPD. He recently underwent a departmental trial and has been on desk duty since the incident, but he could be fired.

Pantaleo has denied using any inappropriate force in trying to subdue Garner. His lawyer, Stuart London, said he’d prefer to remain on the force, saying, “It’s in his blood. He’d love to continue.”

An administrative judge who presided over Pantaleo’s internal disciplinary trial in the spring has yet to submit her findings to the police commissioner, who has the final say on punishment, which could range from loss of vacation days to termination.

At issue is whether Pantaleo used a chokehold, which is banned by the police department, or another restraint technique, as his lawyer has argued.

The department trial, spread over several weeks in May and June, included never-before-heard testimony from other officers involved in Garner’s arrest and a medical examiner, who ruled that the chokehold set into motion “a lethal sequence of events.”

Cell phone video shot by Garner’s friend, Ramsey Orta, showed Pantaleo taking Garner to the ground after he and another officer confronted him over suspicions he was selling loose cigarettes. Before Pantaleo grabbed him, Garner is seen on video arguing with the officers, protesting what he considered constant harassment.

Pantaleo’s union, the Police Benevolent Association, has blamed Garner’s poor health and resisting arrest for his death.

Garner weighed 395 pounds at the time of death and suffered from asthma, diabetes and had a heart nearly double the size of a person in good health, a medical examiner said.

Garner’s family will meet with federal prosecutors this morning before holding a news conference. U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue is also expected to speak around 11 a.m.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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