Read a PDF of our statement here.

Today, a full five years after the horrific killing of Eric Garner at the hands of New York Police Department (NYPD) officers, Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemary Maldonado recommended to NYPD Police Commissioner James O’Neill that Officer Daniel Pantaleo be fired for killing Eric Garner by placing him in a chokehold, a tactic previously banned by the department.

“We commend this recommendation by the administrative judge and urge the Police Commissioner to follow it,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF’s President and Director-Counsel. “But this took far too long. Though nothing can make up for the loss of Mr. Garner’s life, or the suffering his family has had to endure, this decision is the right one. We also call for the other officers who were present to be held accountable. Pantaleo administered the chokehold, but there were three officers who held Mr. Garner down while he pleaded for his life saying, ‘I can’t breathe’ eleven times and other officers on the scene failed to intervene.”

The decision by the administrative judge underscores the need for policies within the NYPD requiring transparency and provides an example of why laws like CRL 50-a, which shield officer misconduct from the public, must be repealed.

“Our work does not stop with the firing of Pantaleo or the other officers,” said LDF Director of Community Organizing, Lumumba Akinwole-Bandele. “We will continue to push for the officers who wield power and discretion over the lives of New Yorkers to be held accountable to those same people. The existence of CRL 50-a means that officers like Pantaleo, who have engaged in unjustified use of deadly force, could merely go to work for another police department without their prior record being disclosed. This is simply unacceptable.”

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Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.

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