New York City

Five years of Eric Garner and Daniel Pantaleo proceedings

New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill has fired Officer Daniel Pantaleo for his use of a banned chokehold while arresting Eric Garner during a fatal encounter. City & State updated its timeline of the major developments in the legal postscript to Garner’s life and death.

Black Lives Matter activists protest in Harlem, in the wake of a decision by federal prosecutors who declined to bring civil rights charges against NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo.

Black Lives Matter activists protest in Harlem, in the wake of a decision by federal prosecutors who declined to bring civil rights charges against NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo. Craig Ruttle/AP/Shutterstock

More than five years after Eric Garner died on Staten Island in the midst of being arrested for allegedly selling loose cigarettes, New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill fired Officer Daniel Pantaleo on Monday. The move comes after an NYPD trial judge recommended that Pantaleo be fired from the force. She determined that he used a chokehold, a move banned by the NYPD, while subduing Garner.

Garner’s family and civil rights activists have long called for legal accountability for the cops involved, especially Pantaleo, who could be seen in a video taken by bystanders with his arm around Garner’s neck. The police officers holding Garner on the ground ignored his now-famous pleas, “I can’t breathe.” The years since have been marked by delays, protests and court battles – but no punishment for Pantaleo until now. 

A grand jury in New York City did not indict Pantaleo in the death in late 2014. The case hit a milestone four-and-a-half years later on July 16 when the Justice Department announced it would not charge Pantaleo with violating federal civil rights law, ending the possibility of criminal prosecution.

New Yorkers who watched the video may wonder why it has taken so long for the various legal processes to play out. And it may be difficult even to keep track of all that has happened in the different proceedings. Below is a timeline of the major developments in the legal postscript to Garner’s life and tragic death. 

July 17, 2014

Eric Garner died while being arrested. Pantaleo wrapped his arm around Garner’s neck in what appeared to many observers to be a chokehold, which is prohibited by the New York Police Department, while wrestling him to the ground. (Pantaleo’s attorneys dispute that he used a chokehold.) Garner’s last words were “I can’t breathe,” which has since become a rallying cry among Black Lives Matter and other activists protesting against the killings of unarmed black men by police. Although officers called an ambulance, Garner was unresponsive and was pronounced dead at the hospital. 

Aug. 1, 2014

A medical examiner determined Garner’s death to be a homicide caused by the compression of his neck and chest, with his weight, asthma and heart disease as contributing factors.

Oct. 7, 2014

Garner’s family announced its intention to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against New York City for $75 million. 

Dec. 3, 2014

A Staten Island grand jury failed to indict Pantaleo on charges related to Garner’s death, ending the criminal case against the officer. The same day, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department would open a federal civil rights investigation in light of the state grand jury’s decision not to press charges. The statute of limitations to bring the federal charges is five years.

March 19, 2015

Staten Island Supreme Court Justice William E. Garnett denied a request to release the transcript of testimony to the 2014 grand jury by civil rights attorneys and then-New York City Public Advocate Letitia James. The decision was upheld twice on appeal.

July 13, 2015 

New York City agrees to pay Garner’s family $5.9 million in an out-of-court settlement. 

Oct. 24, 2016

The New York Times reported that the Justice Department had replaced the agents who had been investigating Garner’s death following the opposition by FBI agents and federal prosecutors in New York to bring charges. The Civil Rights Division in Washington were proponents of bringing charges.

July 16, 2018

Four years after Garner’s death, the NYPD sent a letter to the Justice Department saying that since it had not yet brought federal civil rights charges, the department would begin disciplinary proceedings against Pantaleo. The NYPD had maintained that the Justice Department had requested it not move forward until the federal investigation had concluded. 

July 21, 2018

The NYPD officially filed departmental charges against Pantaleo after getting approval from the Justice Department.

May 13, 2019

The administrative trial for Pantaleo began to determine what, if any, disciplinary actions should be taken. Ordinarily, prosecutors would only need to prove the officer had violated departmental rules. But the trial began well after the 18-month time period misconduct charges could have been brought, necessitating the unusually high bar of proving Pantaleo committed a crime. One of the main threads of the trial has been to determine whether Pantaleo technically used an illegal chokehold. Although the trial has concluded, the NYPD judge has not yet made a ruling. The most severe punishment the judge can recommend is that Pantaleo be fired. The ruling is not binding and the final decision on disciplinary action rests with Police Commissioner James O’Neill, who may ignore and amend the recommendation.

July 16, 2019

A day before the statute of limitations runs out, the Justice Department announced it would not file federal civil rights charges against Pantaleo. The decision ultimately came down to Attorney General William Barr, who decided to follow the earlier opinion of FBI agents and federal prosecutors not to indict.

Aug. 2, 2019

Rosemarie Maldonado, the deputy commissioner for the NYPD who presided over Pantaleo’s disciplinary trial, recommended that he be fired for using a banned chokehold while subduing Garner. However, the final decision on what action to take or not take against Pantaleo rested with O’Neill.

Aug. 19, 2019

About two weeks after Maldonado made her recommendation, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill announced that he had fired Pantaleo for his use of a banned chokehold while arresting Garner, the most severe punishment he could dole out.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.