The decision was announced by NYPD commissioner James P. O’Neill in a statement on Monday, several weeks after a judge recommended Pantaleo’s termination. Per The Washington Post, O’Neill said, “It was an extremely difficult decision. I’ve been a cop for a long time. If I was still a cop, I’d probably be mad at me.”
This post is focused primarily on Pantaleo’s termination. To learn more about Garner’s death and Pantaleo’s involvement in the incident, you can read this original facts post on Pantaleo.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Pantaleo Didn’t Know About His Termination Before the Press Conference
During his press conference on Monday, O’Neill said that he didn’t inform Pantaleo of his decision prior to speaking publicly. What’s more, he said he had no intentions to speak with Pantaleo in person at any point.
O’Neill said in part,
“In carrying out the court’s verdict in this case, I take no pleasure. I know that many will disagree with this decision, and that is their right. There are absolutely no victors here today. Not the Garner family, not the community at large, and certainly not the courageous men and women of the Police Department who put their own lives on the line every single day in service to the people of this great city. Today is a day of reckoning, but can also be a day of reconciliation.”
2. Pantaleo Will Be Stripped of His Pension, & All Contributions Will Be Returned to Him
According to O’Neill’s statement at the press conference, Pantaleo will be stripped of his 13-year vested pension. All of those contributions will be returned to him, O’Neill further explained.
O’Neill did offer some words of empathy for the fired officer during his press conference, as well.
He said at one point, “Had I been in officer Pantaleo’s situation, I may have made similar mistakes. And had I made those mistakes, I wish I would’ve used the arrival of backup officers to give the situation more time to make that arrest. And I wished I would’ve released my grip before it became a chokehold.”
3. Commissioner O’Neill Used the Opportunity to Make a Plea to the Public: ‘Don’t Judge us on one Incident’
During the press conference, Commissioner O’Neill took the time to make a request of the public at large. He said, “Don’t judge us on one incident. Judge us by the totality of what we do.”
At another point, he lamented the difficulty of the role, saying, “This is a very difficult job.”
Stuart London, Pantaleo’s lawyer, has maintained in recent weeks that firing Pantaleo would be unfair. Per The Washington Post, he said at one point, “[Pantaleo] acted the way he was taught to act. If you call this reckless assault then almost any arrest would be reckless assault.”
4. Daniel Pantaleo’s Wife Is Alicia Cross
Many have been searching for details around Pantaleo’s social and personal life in the past few years, in the wake of Garner’s controversial death. Daniel Pantaleo, 30, appears to have a wife, but little is known about her. The New York Post did release a leaked photo of Pantaleo’s apparent wedding to Alicia Cross in 2017.
Pantaleo’s wife, Alicia Cross, is from Staten Island. They reportedly began dating after Pantaleo’s 2014 controversy.
There’s also some information available on Daniel Pantaleo’s family. According to The New York Daily News, Pantaleo’s father is a retired firefighter named Angelo Pantaleo. The publication further reports that Pantaleo is not the only police officer in the family: his uncle is retired NYPD officer. Another of his uncles, the publication reports, used to be a lieutenant with the Suffolk County Police Department.
Pantaleo grew up in Oakwood, The New York Daily News reports. He was described by a former teacher as a “very nice man” who “always had an opinion.”
5. Eric Garner’s Daughter: ‘It Wasn’t Supposed to Happen to Him’
In response to news of Pantaleo’s termination, Garner’s daughter, Emerald Garner, offered a public statement.
“I don’t even want to see another video of a person being choked out,” Emerald said. “Because it wasn’t supposed to happen to him. It’s not supposed to happen. I should not be here standing with my brother, fatherless. I should be standing here with my father. But Pantaleo took that away from me on 7/17. Yes, he’s fired. But the fight is not over. We will continue to fight.”
To O’Neill, Emerald also said, “I thank you for doing the right thing.”
Earlier this month, Emerald said, per The Washington Post, “This has been a long battle, five years too long. And finally somebody has said that there’s some information that this cop did something wrong.”