Daniel Pantaleo, NYPD officer involved in Garner chokehold death, suspended after termination recommendation

NEW YORK -- An NYPD trial judge recommended Officer Daniel Pantaleo be fired over his role in the death of Eric Garner and has since been suspended.

In the non-binding verdict, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado said Pantaleo is guilty of using a chokehold but not guilty of aggravated assault nor obstructing breathing.

Her verdict is merely a disciplinary recommendation to NYPD Police Commissioner James O'Neill, with whom the ultimate decision rests.

Pantaleo has been suspended, as of Friday, the NYPD said, in keeping with the longstanding practice when a civil servant is recommended to be fired.

A statement realased by Deputy Commissioner Public Information Phillip Walzak also made clear that, despite the wishes of the Garner family, O'Neill will abide by the guidelines and not issue his final determination until later this month.

Meanwhile, Eric Garner's family and activists gathered at the National Action Network in Harlem and called for O'Neill to act on the recommendation.

"Commissioner O'Neill, fire Pantaleo," Garner's daughter Emerald said at the news conference.

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Eric Garner's daughter speaks after a judge recommended firing the officer involved in his death.



"The commisoner needs to immediately, unequivoly accept the recommendation of the judge and do it right away," Rev. Al Sharpton added.

Sharpton said the recommendation is not justice for the Garner family, but it is good for the city and the citizens of New York City.

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Sharpton spoke after a judge recommended firing the officer accused of using a chokehold in Eric Garner's death



Gwen Carr, Eric Garner's mother, issued a written statement.

"My family and I have been fighting for five long years for justice and accountability for Eric's murder - and Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD have put up roadblocks and delays every step of the way. It brings me some relief to learn that Judge Maldonado has recommended that Pantaleo be fired - but the recommendation is long overdue. Im still not allowed to see Maldonado's report and we still have a ways to go before there is true accountability for Eric's murder. Its past time for Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD to end their obstruction, stop spreading misleading talking points and finally take action for my son," she wrote.

Maldonado is forwarding her recommendation about Pantaleo's fate to his defense attorney and the civilian complaint review board, the body that oversees complaints against officers Friday. She also oversaw Pantaleo's departmental trial during the spring.

The written verdict is forwarded to the Criminal Complaint Review Board, which prosecuted his case, and Pantaleo's PBA attorney, per NYPD rules.

Both sides will have two weeks to submit responses to O'Neill, who will then determine Pantaleo's future with the NYPD. A final outcome is not expected until the middle of August.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said he hoped the recomendation will lead to a sense of closure.

"Today we finally saw a step towards justice and accountability. We saw a process that was actually fair and impartial. And I hope that this will now bring the Garner family a sense of closure and the beginning of some peace," he said.

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de Blasio said he hoped the recomendation will lead to a sense of closure.



De Blasio is declined to take the opportunity to offer his opinion on whether Officer Pantaleo should be fired, citing the ongoing legal process.

He also declined to say if the judge's decision was just, but said the process was fair.

The mayor has not seen the 47-page report, nor has he spoken to the police commissioner.

"That's because I respect this process," he said.

De Blasio was heckled during the Friday news conference as he was during the Democratic presidential debate on Wednesday in Detroit with chants of "Fire Pantaleo."

The Police Benevolent Association made it clear that it is unhappy with the judge's verdict.

"This decision is pure political insanity. If it is allowed to stand, it will paralyze the NYPD for years to come," PBA President Patrick Lynch said in a statement.

Later at a news conference, Lynch said the recommendation was "reckless."

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PBA President Patrick Lynch calls the recommendation "reckless"



Before his suspension, Pantaleo was on desk duty these last five years as he was investigated for the apparent chokehold that contributed to Garner's death in custody on Staten Island.

He has rejected any notion he violated policy or did anything wrong when he arrested Garner for selling loose cigarettes on the streets of Staten Island.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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