BY THOMAS TRACY
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS/TNS
NEW YORK – The Justice Department won’t be filing charges against NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner on Staten Island, according to a report.
The decision comes nearly five years to the day after Garner died following a clash with police over his selling of loose cigarettes in Tompkinsville.
The Times is basing their reporting on two federal officials who had been briefed on the decision.
Garner’s cries of “I can’t breathe” as Pantaleo brought him down to the ground in what authorities described as a banned chokehold were caught on cellphone video exclusively obtained by the Daily News that day. The shocking incident sparked widespread protests and helped spur the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The feds had until Wednesday — the fifth anniversary of the incident — to make their decision, although they told the NYPD a year ago they had completed their investigation into the circumstances surrounding the July 17, 2014, confrontation.
The NYPD is still determining if it will fire Pantaleo, who did not testify at his recently completed departmental trial.
Before any administrative action can be taken against the officer, NYPD Deputy Trials Commissioner Rosemarie Maldonado has to issue her recommendation to NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, which was not expected to happen until after the feds announce the results of their probe.
Pantaleo, who has been working on modified assignment with no gun or shield since the incident, wants to remain on the force, his attorney Stuart London said.
Garner was confronted by Pantaleo and other officers for allegedly selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, a persistent quality-of-life issue. Garner, who had a history of such offenses and had cigarettes on him that day, said all he had done was break up a fight and that he was no longer going to tolerate being hassled by police.
‘I CAN’T BREATHE’
As he was taken down, the 395-pound Garner suffered a fatal asthmatic attack triggered by Pantaleo’s chokehold and the compression of Garner’s chest when he was on the ground, the city Medical Examiner determined.
London has claimed Pantaleo used a sanctioned “seat-belt” maneuver, not a chokehold, and that Garner died because he was in poor health.
In an interview Monday night, Sharpton said that failing to federally charge Pantaleo would be a “loss for the city.” If Pantaleo wasn’t charged, he and Garner’s family would focus their attention on getting him fired.
“We will continue to pursue the department and demand that they take his job,” Sharpton said. “We can’t have a cop working in this city who puts a man in a chokehold on tape, and the man says ‘I can’t breathe’ 11 times.”