Police Abuse

Cop Who Put Eric Garner in Fatal Chokehold Has History of Substantiated Abuse Allegations Against Him

He is still employed by the NYPD.



Documents obtained by ThinkProgress reveal that Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer who put Eric Garner in a fatal chokehold after engaging him over the alleged sale of loose, untaxed cigarettes, had seven disciplinary complaints consisting of 14 individual allegations lodged against him, four of which, from two complaints, had been substantiated by the Citizens Complaint Review Board (CCRB), which, according to ThinkProgress, had recommended disciplinary action against the cop.

The four substantiated allegations of abuse of authority yielded three penalties from the NYPD, and one ruling that rejected the CCRB's conclusion. The allegations came from two incidents, a vehicle search in in December 2011 and a stop & frisk in June 2012. The CCRB recommended the harshest penalty available to it for each of the allegations—administrative prosecution by the NYPD. The process can end in termination. Instead, the NYPD's Administrative Prosecution Unit found Pantaleo not guilty on one of the abuse charges stemming from the June 2012 incident, and guilty on the other, penalizing him two vacation days. The NYPD rejected the CCRB's recommendation in the December 11 incident, going with the weakest penalty instead, mandatory training.

Unsubstantiated allegations, according to ThinkProgress, included "allegations that Pantaleo refused to seek medical treatment for someone in 2009, hit someone against an inanimate object in 2011, made abusive vehicular stops and searches on two separate occasions in 2012, and used physical force during another incident in 2013." Experts ThinkProgress spoke to said that the number of allegations against Pantaleo should have raised "red flags" with the NYPD. But given the extensive protections granted cops through their union contracts as well as local and state laws, there is not much incentive for the NYPD to pursue problematic cops. CCRB data, according to ThinkProgress, shows that fewer than 5 percent of NYPD officers have more than seven complaints against them like Pantaleo, and just 2 percent (738 cops) have more than one complaint with substantiated allegations.

The New York Civil Liberties Union told ThinkProgress that the city's decision in 2014 to stop releasing officers' complaint histories to attorneys and reporters who requested them illustrated that Mayor Bill de Blasio "has not been good on police transparency." A spokesperson for the mayor disputed that, but neither the NYPD nor the New York City Law Department, which represents the NYPD, officers who are sued, as well as the CCRB, responded to ThinkProgress' requests for comment.

Samuel Walker, a criminal justice emeritus professor at the University of Nebraska, noted to Think Progress that New York City has a lot of influence on police departments across America. "With the largest police force in the country and a robust local media presence, the NYPD can impact how officers and unions operate elsewhere," ThinkProgress paraphrases Walker as saying. But substantive police reforms in New York will require political leaders who, unlike de Blasio, are actually committed to reform and not just to re-election, and who are not ideologically sympathetic to the unions that helped produce the rules that protect bad actors.

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  1. The same deputy was involved in a 2009 incident that left Christopher Harris paralyzed and in need of 24-hour care for the rest of his life. [Harris died several years later as a result of his injuries]

    Surveillance video from the theater showed [Paul racing towards Harris], who appeared to have stopped with his arms outspread, and of giving him a shove that knocked the smaller man eight feet and through the air into the base of a wall.

    Harris comes into view, makes a slight turn and slows down as Paul gives him a fierce shove, knocking him off his feet. Harris’ head slams into the base of a tiled wall outside the movie house.

    The above is from an article detailing yet another incident where the county had to pay out $75,000 to a man whose nose was broken in an unprovoked incident by the same deputy, Matthew Paul.

    Matthew Paul still currently serves as a King County Deputy, interacting with the public, drawing his salary and building his pension.

    Policing in this country is broken as all fuck.

    County prosecutors declined to file charges against Paul, saying there was no legal basis for a criminal charge.

  2. I can’t tell if that’s Retard Face or New Yorker Face.

    1. Looks like “Tom Cruise Intense Face” to me.

    2. It’s a, “I make $120,000 a year while wearing shorts and a football jersey violently arresting people who were minding their own business” face.

    3. I’d be willing to bet as much as $10 that he talks like Carol Channing.

    4. That’s his “stop calling me Danny Pants already” face.

    5. I thought they were the same thing.

      1. They don’t entirely overlap, but there is definitely a special New York retard face that you don’t see much elsewhere. In my limited NYC experience.

  3. police reforms in New York will require political leaders who […] are not ideologically sympathetic to the unions that helped produce the rules that protect bad actors

    This x1000

    Comrade Mayor would support killing homeless vets’ puppies and kittens if there was a union behind it.

    1. In blue states and cities, I don’t see this changing any time soon. If ever. Unions and local governments are now so intertwined, they essentially operate as one institution.

  4. Of course he’s still employed, he’s a model employee. That is he’s willing to bully and abuse up to the point of death the citizens of NYC. What more could a police department ask for? He’s a good cop, a bad person but a good cop.

  5. NYPD are the best.

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