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Op-Ed: An NYPD officer with a disciplinary history gets away with murder

By Ben Morris     Dec 3, 2014 in Crime
New York - This is no isolated incident. Police have far too much power, impunity, and not enough accountability. The man who killed Eric Garner had such a poor record, he should have been nothing more than a mall security guard.
Less than two weeks after Darren Wilson was not charged in the death of Michael Brown, another police officer has walked free. In Ferguson, the grand jury found Michael Brown reached into Wilson's SUV and began an assault where Wilson responded with gunfire. In New York the story is completely different. While Brown was suspected of committing a violent crime, and his death not videotaped, Eric Garner's death was caught on camera, and he was no suspected thief. His crime was simply selling cigarettes that weren't taxed.
No matter if you agree or disagree with the decision in Ferguson; the case of Eric Garner and Officer Daniel Pantaleo is even more appalling.
In the sickening video, Garner complains about police harassment, and without him laying his hands on an officer, or threatening violence, Officer Daniel Pantaleo approaches Garner from behind and places the father of six in a chokehold.Even with Garner's cries of "I can't breathe," Pantaleo did not hold back, even resorting to pushing Garner's face into the ground. Now a family is without a father, and a community is without justice.
Pantaleo was not a rookie on the force who did not know any better, he was not an even tempered man who made one mistake. After Garner was killed good journalistic work uncovered Pantaleo made a habit out of visiting the principal's office. In his seven years on the NYPD police force, Pantaleo has racked up seven complaints sent to the NYPD's Civilian Complaint Review Board. Two of those complaints were based on accusations of excessive force. In one case the City had to settle a civil rights lawsuit at the tune of $30,000.
In any other profession seven disciplinary hearings and a company loss of $30,000 after a complaint would get you fired, yet Pantaleo kept his job after all of these complaints, and upped his record of false arrests, and subjecting a suspect to a public strip search, to placing a suspect in an illegal chokehold that cost a man his life. This is not surprising since the CCRB has been accused of covering high crimes and misdemeanours of the police force.
Last October, Tracey Catapano-Fox, former executive director of the CCRB filed a lawsuit against the board accusing the independent arbitrators of colluding with the NYPD to hide true statistics of the controversial stop and frisk program, as well as the failure to discipline 28 police officers who committed “substantiated unlawful” stops.
In the lawsuit which also made claims of sexual harassment board chair Richard Emery is accused of "- repeatedly refusing to challenge its failure to discipline officers who violate the civil rights of the citizens of New York City."
The case of an officer with a history of violating the rights of citizens is not an anomaly to the NYPD, whether it's Occupy Wall Street protests, Stop and Frisk, street festivals the police of New York have crossed the line so far, they cannot see it behind them.
Officer Pantaleo should have been fired long ago; not indicting him for continuing to use an illegal choke on a man who says he can't breathe is a gross miscarriage of justice that is happening far too often. When bad police officers are left on the streets, these tragedies happen. And when disciplinary hearings give officers a slap on the wrist, justice becomes a word void of any meaning.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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