Disgraced chokehold cop Daniel Pantaleo, who was fired for his role in the death of Eric Garner, has sued the NYPD to get his job back, his lawyer said Wednesday.
Attorney Stuart London said Pantaleo’s behavior and actions were “justified” when he initiated a chain of events that led to Garner’s shocking, caught-on-camera death on a Staten Island street in 2014.
Pantaleo was fired in August after a recommendation from an administrative judge, Rosemarie Maldonado, cleared the way for Police Commissioner James O’Neill to give Pantaleo the boot.
London said at the time he would file an appeal.
“Judge Maldonado was incorrect when she indicated that he committed the crime of assault in the third degree,” London said. “Both of his initial moves were justified, putting him up against the window were justified, and once he was cuffed he was put on his side.”
video of the confrontation to make her determination.
“It’s a fluid situation as every physical altercation is, and she is dissecting it and she is using tortured logic to come to a decision which is inaccurate,” London said.
The lawsuit, which names O’Neill and the NYPD was filed in Manhattan Civil Court.
London said Pantaleo, 34, a 13-year veteran who was earning more than $85,000, still longed to pin on the badge.
He said that Maldonado cherry-picked three to five seconds out of the video of the confrontation to make her determination.
“I think he was disappointed the way he was fired,” London said. “I think he was disappointed he was not allowed to get his pension. He wasn’t given his pension or even a prorated portion of the pension. He doesn’t feel he was fairly treated by the job, by the mayor or by the police department.”
Representatives for O’Neill and the NYPD could not immediately be reached for comment.
A Law Department spokesman said “we will defend the Administrative Law Judge’s finding and recommendation and the Police Commissioner’s decision.”
Pantaleo’s lawsuit is the latest chapter in an ongoing saga that began when cops confronted Garner, 43, on July 17, 2014, and accused him of illegally selling cigarettes. Viral video showed Pantaleo applying the banned chokehold, and taking Garner down to the ground, where 11 times he said, “I can’t breathe” — words that became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I think it’s an outrage,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, a family supporter. “What is the basis of the suit? He was given a fair trial. To upend that would be to not only eradicate the procedure, it would be totally a slap in the face to those of us who feel the policy or the law of chokeholds was broken.”
“How can he be trusted to be on any law enforcement force?” Sharpton continued. “He has showed no contrition and no acknowledgement he broke the policy.”
Sharpton vowed if the lawsuit goes to trial, he will fill the courtroom with protesters.
“I may even have a group come with neck braces to the courtroom,” Sharpton said.