Pantaleo is still arguing that Eric Garner died because of a health condition–not the chokehold the former office had put him in.
Daniel Pantaleo, the former New York Police Department (NYPD) officer accused of killing Eric Garner, is suing his agency for wrongful termination.
Pantaleo, reports CNN, allegedly choked Garner to death.
Garner, a black man, was unarmed. Nevertheless, Pantaleo put him into a strong chokehold, refusing to relent even as Garner began gasping for air and saying, “I can’t breathe.”
The death became a boiling point, with Garner’s last words echoed in Black Lives Matter protests across the country.
An attorney for Pantaleo, Stuart London, told CNN that he filed the suit on behalf of his client in the state supreme court on Wednesday. London maintains that everything Pantaleo did is taught in the New York Police Department’s own academies.
“We still have many arguments, not the least of which will be the ridiculousness of the reckless assault convictions […] in which all of his contacts with Mr. Garner were appropriate and taught in the academy,” London said, adding that Pantaleo never put any pressure on Garner’s neck.
London, says CNN, believes that Garner died from a lung or heart condition rather than oxygen deprivation.
“Had Mr. Garner not resisted and not had such a compromised health situation, the result may have been very different,” London stated.
A spokesperson for New York City’s Law Department said that they plan to “defend the Administrative Law Judge’s finding and recommendation and the Police Commissioner’s decision” to terminate Pantaleo.
Not surprisingly, Pantaleo’s lawsuit has attracted criticism from civil rights advocates—including the controversial Rev. Al Sharpton.
“Pantaleo’s decision to seek his reinstatement is not only disrespectful to the Police Commissioner and NYPD, but also the Garner family,” Sharpton said. “He has shown no contrition or acknowledgment of his violent actions that ultimately killed Eric Garner.”
CNN notes that Garner’s encounter with Pantaleo was in response to a fairly petty offense—Garner, a 43-year old father, was reported selling loose cigarettes on a State Island street. Pantaleo’s response to the low-level crime—if it could even be called that—was to slam Garner on the ground before slamming his into the sidewalk and putting him in a chokehold.
Pantaleo’s disciplinary trial focused on whether or not he had used an “approved” or “banned” chokehold. One way or another, Pantaleo has repeatedly denied using an illegal maneuver.
NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado said the chokehold set in motion a series of events that culminated in Garner’s death. According to Maldonado, the chokehold “fell so far short of objective reasonableness that his tribunal found it to be reckless.”