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Updated: May 14, 2019, 1:02 PM

NYPD top trainer disputes Pantaleo defense on use of banned chokehold in Garner’s death

By Sydney Kashiwagi

CITY HALL -- The head of the NYPD’s recruit training section said Tuesday that Officer Daniel Pantaleo used a banned chokehold during his fatal encounter with Eric Garner in Tompkinsville in 2014.

Inspector Richard Dee’s take on the viral video of Garner’s last moments marked the second day of Pantaleo’s disciplinary trail at One Police Plaza and contradicted Pantaleo’s attorney, Stuart London’s, claim that the officer used an approved technique known as a “seat belt hold” to restrain Garner.

“I believe what we see meets the definition of a chokehold” said Dee, who has worked for the NYPD for nearly three decades, after he was shown still photos of the video.

He said in 2014 officers were banned from using chokeholds and that Pantaleo never received training in the seatbelt maneuver when he attended the police academy.

Dee said the seatbelt maneuver was not introduced to new recruits until 2011, after Pantaleo had already left the academy.

When shown video and still of the video, Dee said he would have made at least one more attempt to talk to Garner before going at him physically, but acknowledged the officers did try to de-escalate the situation and talk to him before getting physical.

But Dee said once an officer believes they are holding someone in a chokehold, they are trained to “disengage” immediately.


On Tuesday, Staten Islander Michael Lewis also took the witness stand. Lewis shot video footage of his own of the 2014 encounter between Garner and Pantaleo on his way to lunch.

Lewis said when he saw Garner initially, he was trying to break up a fight. When the officers arrived at the scene, Lewis said he told them “he wasn’t doing anything.”