New York Daily News

Updated:  March 21, 2017, 7:37 PM

  

 

Board recommended discipline for Officer Daniel Pantaleo years before fatal Eric Garner chokehold: report

BY STEPHEN REX BROWN, JILLIAN JORGENSEN, GRAHAM RAYMAN

The cop who choked Eric Garner to death in Staten Island in 2014 had four civilian complaints substantiated against him, but was only docked two vacation days as punishment, documents revealed on Tuesday show.

The documents related to Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo were sent to ThinkProgress.com by an anonymous Civilian Complaint Review Board employee, according to the website.

In all, seven CCRB complaints — including 14 allegations — were made against Pantaleo before the fatal encounter with Garner, the website said.

“Someone should have taken a look at his record a long time ago,” Garner’s mother Gwen Carr said. “If they had done that maybe my son would still be alive.”

While the CCRB didn’t deny the authenticity of the documents, the Daily News couldn’t independently verify they were legit.

Civil rights attorney Joel Berger called the reportedly leaked documents a major revelation.

“These are red flags,” Berger said. “Someone should have taken notice.”

The disclosure infuriated Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

"The leak of such information is simply another demonstration of the CCRB's inability to function in the fair and impartial manner prescribed by the City Charter,” Lynch said. “Their ineptness is well documented.”

Lynch called for a criminal investigation into the leak.

Mayor de Blasio declined to comment Tuesday afternoon, saying he just learned that “information had been leaked.”

CCRB Special Adviser and Secretary to the Board Jerika Richardson would not comment on the content of the records, but said that “if a current or former CCRB staff member were to leak or unlawfully take confidential investigation records, he or she would be subject to termination and possible criminal prosecution.”

Meanwhile, Mayor de Blasio said on NY1’s Road to City Hall Tuesday night that he would speak to Police Commissioner James O’Neill about Pantaleo’s record. He also said NYPD training has improved since Garner’s death.

“It’s a very different NYPD,” he said. “We have a very different approach. We also note that as a result of all these changes, complaints against officers have gone down and we have a stronger CCRB.”

Pantaleo confronted Garner on July 17, 2014, for selling loose cigarettes outside a Tompkinsville beauty supply store. The 43-year-old father of six — as shown in a viral video first reported by NYDailyNews.com — pleaded for his life after Pantaleo put him in a chokehold.

“I can’t breathe,” Garner said repeatedly.

The medical examiner’s office ruled his death a homicide.

A Staten Island grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo. The civil rights investigation has been open for nearly three years.

The leaked CCRB report comes as Legal Aid pressed a judge to order the city to release NYPD disciplinary records. In August, The News reported the NYPD was withholding the disciplinary records of officers, citing Section 50-a of the 1976 state Civil Rights Law. Before that, the NYPD made some information available.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Joan Lobis seemed skeptical of the city’s claim that NYPD lawyers realized last year they were violating the law for decades.

“It just bothers me,” Lobis said. “ ‘Oops, we’ve been doing this for 40 years and maybe we’ve been messing this up, we don’t have to give this info out?’ Nobody ever complained about it before.” 

WITH THOMAS TRACY