NYPD Fires Officer Accused of Choking Eric Garner
(CNN) -- The New York police officer accused of fatally choking Eric Garner in 2014 has been dismissed and will not receive his NYPD pension, Commissioner James O'Neill said Monday.
"It is clear that Daniel Pantaleo can no longer effectively serve as a New York police officer," he said.
Officer Daniel Pantaleo was found guilty in a disciplinary trial earlier this month of using a chokehold on Garner, the New York man whose final words, "I can't breathe," became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement.
The departmental administrative judge officially recommended Pantaleo be fired. O'Neill, an officer for 34 years, cited that recommendation repeatedly in his announcement on Monday, but he said it was still not an "easy decision."
"Had I been in (Pantaleo's) situation, I may have made similar mistakes," he said.
O'Neill said contributions Pantaleo has already made toward his pension will be returned to him.
O'Neill had been expected to follow the recommendation, a senior law enforcement official said then. Pantaleo had been suspended pending the commissioner's decision, the NYPD spokesman said.
The decision comes more than five years after police tried to arrest the 43-year-old father of six, who was allegedly selling loose cigarettes illegally on Staten Island. In a video of the arrest, Pantaleo can be seen wrapping one arm around Garner's shoulder and the other around his neck before jerking him back and pulling him to the ground.
As Pantaleo forces Garner's head into the sidewalk, Garner could be heard saying "I can't breathe. I can't breathe." He died shortly afterward.
The city medical examiner's office ruled Garner's death a homicide and later testified that Pantaleo's alleged chokehold caused an asthma attack and was "part of the lethal cascade of events."
Pantaleo denied that he used the maneuver, but Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado ruled that a chokehold triggered a series of events that culminated with Garner's death.
Pantaleo was found guilty in a disciplinary trial earlier this month but has avoided criminal charges in the death. A grand jury in New York declined to indict the officer in 2014, and the city of New York settled with Garner's estate for $5.9 million in 2015.
(Photo by Eduardo Alvarez/AP via CNN.)