Most people can agree the modern criminal-justice system in America needs serious reform.
It’s not uncommon for police to arrest non-violent offenders so that they can lock them up in private prisons to make a select group of wealthy elites even richer.
This kind of abuse leaves many Americans yearning for change; thankfully, some change is on the horizon as justice is served after an alleged murderous cop was fired for killing a non-violent man.
A little over five years ago, the story of Eric Garner’s death swept the nation.
Garner was a two-bit New York hustler who didn’t want to get a real job and preferred to make his money selling cigarettes on the street (tax-free). He had a reputation as a nice guy, and while his chosen occupation didn’t pose a problem to his community, the NYPD couldn’t have someone earning a living at the expense of paying “the Man” his due.
Garner had been warned several times about selling his cigarettes. When he refused to listen to police officer Daniel Pantaleo and a group of other police confronted him. The group of officers wrestled Garner to the ground, and Pantaleo put Garner in a chokehold.
As a crowd watched on, video of the incident was captured by one bystander captured Garner’s now-famous plea of “Stop, I can’t breathe.”
Sadly Pantaleo didn’t let up his chokehold, and Garner passed away during the struggle.
The incident, which took place around the same time as the shooting death of Michael Brown, drew outrage. And when Pantaleo wasn’t immediately arrested for causing Garner’s death, it left liberty-advocates feeling like the scales of justice were forever weighted in favor of those in power.
Fortunately, those scales are now balanced.
No, Pantaleo will not serve any prison time for his role in Garner’s death.
However, after nearly five years of investigation, an internal review has shown Pantaleo was indeed guilty of using a prohibited restraining move (chokehold) against Garner. Pantaleo has denied for years he’d choked Garner, but the result of year’s worth of investigation showed he did.
And for that decision, Pantaleo was released from his job as an officer of the NYPD.
Rosemarie Maldonado, who serves as the Deputy Commissioner of Trials and who wrote the report on Pantaleo’s firing conceded she didn’t believe Pantaleo meant to harm Garner with the chokehold, but the available evidence made it obvious he did in fact cause Garner to die.
The report also detailed how Garner did his level best to shield himself from reprisals, including acting untruthfully during the time of his investigation. In her report, she wrote, “I found [Pantaleo] to be disingenuous when he viewed the video and denied using a chokehold,” she wrote.
The report concluded with Maldonado saying Pantaleo was guilty of recklessly causing physical injury which should result in his firing.
Which it did as NYPD commissioner James O’Neill issued a press release confirming Pantaleo’s release from the department.
Though justice for the deceased was slow in coming, and though it may not feel like Pantaelo’s firing is a punishment that fits the crime, the bottom line is justice for Garner has been served.
Now, hopefully, all Americans… even Eric Garner’s family can breathe a little easier.