On July 17, 2014, NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo wrapped his arms around Eric Garner’s neck and squeezed. He held tight as his colleagues slammed Garner, 43 years old and asthmatic, to the ground. Garner, who was unarmed at the time, gasped for air, arm outstretched, saying “I can’t breathe” over and over as officers piled on top of him. Then he was silent.
The next day, when the New York Daily News released video of the encounter, Garner had already died from neck and chest compression. His death sparked national protests about police violence against the black community, and his final words, “I can’t breathe,” became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement. On December 3, 2014, when a grand jury decided not to indict Pantaleo, thousands of people in cities all over the country stormed the streets to chant Garner’s dying words.
Pantaleo became a symbol of law enforcement that acts with impunity — especially with respect to white officers interacting violently with black men. Not only had Pantaleo killed a man accused of bootlegging cigarettes, but he’d used a chokehold prohibited by the NYPD to do it.
Now, documents obtained exclusively by ThinkProgress indicate that Pantaleo, who is still employed by the NPYD, had a history of breaking the rules. These records are the subject of an ongoing lawsuit, and the city refuses to release them.
Before he put Garner in the chokehold, the records show, he had seven disciplinary complaints and 14 individual allegations lodged against him. Four of those allegations were substantiated by an independent review board.
Neither Pantaleo nor the NYPD responded to ThinkProgress requests for comment.
Source: Think Progress | Jack Jenkins and Carimah Townes