The New York Times is reporting that a police commander in Staten Island received text messages from one of his officers in July 2014, informing him that a man identified as Eric Garner had been arrested, and was “most likely DOA” after he had been wrestled to the ground.
The lieutenant replied,
“Not a big deal. We were effecting a lawful arrest.”
Audible gasps were heard as the texts were read aloud yesterday during a police disciplinary hearing for Officer Daniel Pantaleo, accused of recklessly using a chokehold that led to Mr. Garner’s death after he was detained on the suspicion that he was selling untaxed cigarettes.
Mr. Garner’s dying words, repeated 11 times!
“I can’t breathe”
This set off protests around the country and became a powerful slogan for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, told the Guardian immediately after the hearing that the text messages were “a pure smack in the face”. Carr said, she had not known of the messages’ existence until they were read in court.
“For the officer to disregard a human life like that … in other words it was business as usual. Leave him there, do what you want to do, go on about your business. That’s what it felt like to me.”
During cross examination Bannon defended the remarks as an attempt to calm the officers involved. Bannon said,
“My reasoning behind that text message was not to be malicious, it’s to make sure the officer knew [he] was put in a bad situation. To try to bring him down to a level where you put him at ease.”
The lieutenant told the administrative court that officers continued to process Garner’s arrest even after he had died.
The hearing, the fourth day of Pantaleo’s trial, revealed new details about the buildup to Garner’s arrest. Bannon told the court that Garner and two other men had been known to authorities for their involvement in the sale of untaxed cigarettes close to an NYPD precinct in the New York City borough of Staten Island.
The hearing is set to continue into next week. The move severe punishment Pantaleo faces is being fired. The trial is not criminal.
(Photo, YouTube; via NY Times)