Pantleo used a banned chokehold on Garner, an unarmed Black man whose dying words, “I can’t breathe,” were captured on video. Pantaleo is still employed by the NYPD, and his record—which the Legal Aid Society has been attempting to obtain via lawsuit since February 2015—appears to show a pattern of breaking departmental rules.
ThinkProgress reports that the documents detail seven disciplinary complaints and 14 individual allegations against Pantaleo, four of which were substantiated by the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), which recommended disciplinary action. Those four allegations rose from a 2011 vehicle stop and search and a 2012 stop and frisk, which were labeled abusive. The CCRB’s own data shows that 17 percent of NYPD officers have had four or more complaints lodged against them.
While the board recommended an “administrative prosecution”—which could result in lost vacation days, suspension or termination—for the 2011 complaints, the NYPD instead subjected Pantaleo to additional instruction. And while the department found him guilty of unauthorized frisking in 2012, he was cleared of an “abusive stop.” As a consequence, he was forced to give up two vacations days, versus the eight that the board recommended.
The anonymous source said they worked at the CCRB, and four attorneys who work with the board say the documents appear to be genuine. ThinkProgress reports that neither Pantaleo nor the NYPD responded to requests for comment, but someone at the CCRB confirmed that the complaint numbers are real, while stopping short of confirming the identity of the officer they reference.
From the ThinkProgress article:
Jonathan Moore, a civil-rights attorney who represented Garner’s family and four of the Central Park Five, noted that the previous stop-and-frisk case was telling.
“Imagine that. Here’s the disposition of a substantiated charge for making a bad vehicle search and a bad vehicle stop, and the remedy is instruction,” Moore told ThinkProgress. “What happened on July 17th with Eric Garner was a bad stop and frisk.”
The documents also show 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….
But legal experts say the number of complaints should have raised red flags, even if they weren’t substantiated.
“Regardless of the outcome, if you get three complaints in a year, you’re supposed to be on performance monitoring,” Moore said. “He got three in the course of two months in 2012.”
Pantaleo was not indicted for Garner’s death, and the NYPD announced in December 2015 that it will not take disciplinary action against Pantaleo until the Department of Justice (DOJ) finishes its own investigation. The Hill reported earlier this month that the Attorney General Jeff Sessions told civil rights activists that his agency will continue its investigation.
Read the full story on the uncovered documents here.