NYPD officers in Eric Garner case will face internal trial

NYPD officers in Eric Garner case will face internal trial
Posted at 9:03 PM, Jul 20, 2018

The NYPD will immediately begin the disciplinary process regarding two officers involved in the Eric Garner case, city and law enforcement officials confirmed to CNN.

The proceedings involving Officer Daniel Pantaleo and Sgt. Kizzy Adonis will commence in the coming days, an NYPD department spokesman confirmed Thursday, adding that the US Justice Department confirmed to the NYPD on Wednesday that there was no objection to moving forward.

"They (NYPD) first have to serve my client with departmental charges and that hasn't happened yet," Stuart London, Pantaleo's attorney told CNN.

He expects his client to be served within the next two weeks, and said the next steps will be the scheduling of discovery and then the selection of a trial date. Pantaleo is "looking forward to being vindicated," London said.

CNN is seeking comment from Adonis' legal representatives.

Pantaleo's case will be prosecuted by the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the city agency tasked with oversight of the police department, officials said. The CCRB substantiated allegations of misconduct only against Pantaleo, police officials said. An NYPD official will lead the administrative case against Adonis, who was a supervisor and one of the first people at the scene.

An NYPD official told CNN that the disciplinary hearings likely will take place in early 2019. That will allow for the officers' attorneys to have adequate time to prepare, said Deputy Commissioner for Legal Matters Lawrence Byrne.

This will allow for them to review discovery materials and have due process. "For a case of this complexity it's going to take some time to do that," said Byrne.

Family wants officers to be held accountable

On the fourth anniversary of Eric Garner's death Tuesday, his mother, Gwen Carr, stood on the steps of City Hall and demanded action from authorities, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"The de Blasio administration should never have waited for four years or until September because the idea that NYPD couldn't have acted before DOJ has always been a lie," Carr said in a statement, adding that she wanted all the officers seen in the video to be disciplined -- not just Pantaleo and Adonis.

Garner died in 2014 after police attempted to arrest the 43-year-old father of six for allegedly selling cigarettes illegally in Staten Island.

Video shows Pantaleo tackling Garner from behind using a department-banned chokehold. Pantaleo has remained on the NYPD's payroll.

Garner's sister, Ellisha Garner, said the video was clear-cut and the officers should be fired.

"Eric lost his life. What gives him the right to keep his job," Garner, 42, said. "I'll be a little satisfied when someone is actually held accountable. It won't bring him back but at least we know we didn't let it go."

Police union calls for fair process

On Tuesday, the DOJ released a statement saying they told the NYPD in the spring that they were free to pursue disciplinary proceedings. City officials have denied the claim.

Mayor de Blasio, who said he was surprised by Tuesday's statement, asked NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill to speak directly to top DOJ officials and hear it directly from them.

"We wanted to hear it from a ranking official of DOJ," de Blasio said. "That was done in the last 24 hours. It was specifically confirmed. That makes it abundantly clear to all of us. It's time to move forward."

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association officials, the union that represents Pantaleo and other rank and file members, said they hope the process is fair and not political.

"We hope that the NYPD's eagerness to start the disciplinary process does not mean the outcome has already been decided, without even the pretense of due process," said PBA President Patrick J. Lynch in a statement. " P.O. Pantaleo is entitled to a complete an impartial review of the facts. We are confident that he will be vindicated by such a review, unless the Mayor and the NYPD leadership have already decided to prioritize politics over fairness."