Contact: Dan Morris 917.952.8920

Police Accountability Advocates: At Pantaleo Trial Today, NYPD Inspector Confirmed that a Prohibited Chokehold Was Used to Kill Eric Garner

New York, NY – Police accountability organizers present at NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo’s trial today said testimony from a key NYPD witness confirmed that a chokehold unequivocally prohibited by the NYPD for over 20 years was used to kill Eric Garner.

“Pantaleo’s entire legal defense was discredited today by NYPD Inspector Dee. Pantaleo’s lawyers have been falsely claiming that Pantaleo didn't use a chokehold when he killed Eric Garner. But as the NYPD Inspector noted today in trial, not only were chokeholds banned without exception at the time Eric was choked and killed, so-called "seatbelt maneuvers" were not even taught when Pantaleo was in the police academy, or when he went through plainclothes officer training,” said Loyda Colon, Co-Director of the Justice Committee and a spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform (CPR).

“The witness today confirmed the truth everyone already knows: Pantaleo used a chokehold to kill Eric Garner. The chokehold was caught on video for the world to see. The only accurate name for the deadly action Pantaleo performed on Garner is a chokehold. Any time Pantaleo’s lawyers call it something other than a chokehold they are lying. Pantaleo must be held accountable for killing Garner, and lose his job,” said Colon.

Colon was present during the Pantaleo trial today. They have been working with Gwen Carr, Garner’s mother, and the Garner family for years on seeking real accountability for Pantaleo and all the NYPD officers involved in killing Garner.

In July 2014, Officer Daniel Pantaleo killed Eric Garner using a chokehold banned by the NYPD for over twenty years. 

NYPD Patrol Guide Section 203-11 on "Use of Force", in effect at the time Eric Garner was killed, said this: "Members of the New York City Police Department will NOT use chokeholds. A chokehold shall include, but is not limited to, any pressure to the throat or windpipe, which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air." 

While the NYPD's definition of a chokehold has remained the same, the NYPD updated the use of force section of the Patrol Guide following the killing of Garner, and loosened the universal prohibition against chokeholds.

Garner’s killing was captured on video, and the video showed a number of officers using force for the illegal arrest, and many who failed to intervene or provide aid while Garner said "I can't breathe" eleven times. NYPD officials and officers also attempted to cover-up the killing, first claiming that Garner died of a heart attack, illegally leaked sealed records to criminalize Garner, and lied on official reports. 

It has been almost five years since Eric Garner was killed and no officer involved has gone through a disciplinary process related to this case. Pantaleo is the only officer that has a trial scheduled, and that is only because public pressure and the Civilian Complaint Review Board’s substantiation of charges forced the case to trial.

Gwen Carr, Garner’s mother, has issued the following demands:

1) The NYPD must fire Officer Pantaleo. 

2) The NYPD must schedule the disciplinary trial for Sgt. Kizzy Adonis, the only other officer with any current pending disciplinary charges - and fire her.

3) The NYPD must bring discipline charges against all of the officers who engaged in misconduct related to the killing of Eric Garner and the attempted cover-up, including those who leaked sealed information and lied on official records in an attempt to cover-up the killing. 

Along with Pantaleo and Sgt. Kizzy Adonis, NYPD officers Justin Damico, Mark Ramos, and Craig Furlani were all reportedly involved in killing Garner- by either failing to intervene and/or engaging in the illegal arrest of Eric Garner.  Also, Sgt. Dhanan Saminath reportedly claimed in an official police report that Garner “did not appear to be in great distress,” which is patently false.  

Those are just the names of NYPD officers known to be involved in Garner’s death. Mayor de Blasio has allowed the NYPD to withhold the names of other officers involved in Garner’s killing, who may have failed to intervene, tried to cover it up, or engaged in related misconduct.


About Communities United for Police Reform

Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is an unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York, and to build a lasting movement that promotes public safety and policing practices based on cooperation and respect– not discriminatory targeting and harassment.

CPR brings together a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists to work for change. The partners in this campaign come from all 5 boroughs, from all walks of life and represent many of those unfairly targeted the most by the NYPD. CPR is fighting for reforms that will promote community safety while ensuring that the NYPD protects and serves all New Yorkers.

Learn more:
Follow CPR on Twitter: @Changethenypd
Like CPR on Facebook:

Topics: Eric Garner