STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- The head of the city’s largest police union believes members of the NYPD are in a state of anger following the decision of Commissioner James P. O’Neill to fire the cop linked to the 2014 death of Eric Garner.
Police Benevolent Association Pat Lynch blasted the decision to fire officer Daniel Pantaleo while standing in front of an Inverted NYPD flag -- a national symbol of distress.
“The job is dead,“ Lynch said. “Our police officers are in distress. Not because they have a difficult job, not because they put themselves in danger, but because they realize they’re abandoned.”
Pantaleo’s attorney Stu London said he and his client will be appealing the decision under the processes laid out by Article 78 of the state’s civil practice law and rules. That article allows for the challenge of decisions made by government agencies like the NYPD.
Joined by London and members of the PBA board, Lynch pledged to hold a PBA delegate vote on a resolution of no confidence in O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“The damage is already done,” Lynch said. “The NYPD will remain rudderless and frozen and Commissioner O’Neill will never be able to bring it back.”
The commissioner’s announcement comes after a weekend in which cops were allegedly shot at and hit with “airmail” outside a Brooklyn housing project. Airmail refers to improvised projectiles hurled from tall buildings.
In a letter sent Monday to members of the PBA, Lynch did not mention the weekend’s incidents, but laid a out a series of advisements for cops to follow should they become involved in contentious situations with the public.
Those advisements include requesting response from patrol supervisors in possible arrest situations, and from EMS when any level of physical force is used.
“We are urging all New York City police officers to proceed with the utmost caution in this new reality, in which they may be deemed reckless just for doing their job,” Lynch said. “We will uphold our oath, but we cannot and will not do so by needlessly jeopardizing our careers or personal safety.”
Lynch’s use of the word “reckless” was in reference NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado’s recommendation to fire Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo, because he acted recklessly when he took Garner to the ground as the man repeatedly told officers that he couldn’t breathe.
Police had responded to Bay Street the day Garner died as part of an ongoing effort to address quality of life issues brought to the NYPD’s attention by local residents. Cops have alleged Garner was selling loose cigarettes the day he died, but his supporters have consistently denied those accusations.
In a confrontation caught on video footage, Garner repeatedly tells officers that he was unwilling to be taken into custody, which prompted Pantaleo to bring him to the ground by his neck as the man said he could not breathe 11 times.
Maldonado issued a draft decision earlier this month recommending Pantaleo be fired. The officer’s defense and the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which prosecuted the case, had until mid-August to submit counter arguments before Maldonado issued her final recommendation to the police commissioner to have the final say.
A separate disciplinary trial will need to take place for Sgt. Kizzy Adonis, another officer who was at the scene on July 17, 2014 on Bay Street.