NEW YORK (AP) — After five years of investigations and protests, New York City's police commissioner on Monday fired an officer involved in the 2014 chokehold death of an unarmed black man whose dying cries of "I can't breathe" fueled a national debate over race and police use of force.
Police Commissioner James O'Neill's announced at a midday news conference that he had fired Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who is white, based on a recent recommendation of a department disciplinary judge. He said it was clear that Pantaleo "can no longer effectively serve as a New York City police officer."
"None of us can take back our decisions," O'Neill said, "especially when they lead to the death of another human being."
O'Neill has been deliberating on whether to accept a disciplinary judge's recommendation to fire Officer Daniel Pantaleo for using a banned chokehold on Eric Garner.
RELATED: Eric Garner reactions
Eric Garner reactions
Eric Garner reactions
I am stunned by the failure to indict Eric Garner's killer.
I have no words left... just angry tears thru gritted teeth. #RIPEricGarner #RIPHumanity #RIPCompassion May the Lord have mercy...
Somebody's Eyes Are Lying.BLACK LIVES MATTER. WE NEED THE FEDS FOR JUSTICE. These Grand Juries In Ferguson And Staten Island And Blind In My Opinion.
Bodycams on police officers. Snuff films made legal. How about showing what justice looks like? #GarnerRiceBrown
"I. CAN'T. BREATHE."
Deep Hurt. We're Men. Human. We feel pain. There will be one collective cry added to these tears.Then the birth of a New Anger. #EricGarner
We held on to hope, and hope was denied. #justiceforEricGarner
Small crowd at spot where #EricGarner died. One protestor -- "This justice system died right along with #EricGarner http://t.co/p86l7FKq4b
Dear United States, it's spirit numbing, shameful, and sickly redundant. #EricGarner
Gillibrand on Garner: "I’m shocked by this grand jury decision, and will be calling on the Department of Justice to investigate.”
Homicide: deliberate & unlawful killing of one person by another. Explain #EricGarner please. http://t.co/ZR1X3FDlr4 http://t.co/p3NoHAd5f6
I just found out about #EricGarner....I am in disbelief. #nojustice #thisisnotok
Make sure you do something to let YOUR government know how you feel when something is unjust., not JUST your followers on twitter...
so america is basically saying: it's ok to kill big, tall black dudes if they do anything except play sports...#ericgarner
Eric Garner's last words. http://t.co/5lbqIEm63t
How do "crazy" cops keep getting away with this?!? He murdered that man. Stop the madness. #EricGarner #ICantBreathe
HE said I can't breathe 11 TIMES!!! 11 times ! Over some cigarettes !!!! Some cigarettes!!!!! If your not from New York and you may not have seen the video of this tragedy. Please go REVOTtv,com I just posted it. YOU have to see it to understand the level of blatant and justice this is!!!! #IcantBREATHE #EricGarner Pls spread the word so people can see it!!!!!!!
u want to disprove the claims of ppl talking abt an unjust & racist system today but u would have listened during Apartheid, Jim Crow, etc??
I wouldn't feel right posting anything else before saying my heart hurts today.
Fruitvale Station..all to familiar
How is this America? #ICantBreathe
I'd just like to know what a cop WOULD have to do to get indicted - and what good are cop cameras since Eric Garner IS on tape?
SMDH....God the world is crying for your help. This really makes me sad. All I can do is pray & I plan on doing ... http://t.co/hWGE9vJal4
This one was on film. http://t.co/Zm7DKL09ok
I'm ashamed. Mostly because I'm no longer shocked at things now-a-days. Nothing is shocking. #EricGarner
RIP Eric Garner and condolences to his family. We must start holding the police accountable for their actions. It's challenging to imagine how this could happen and be excused.
Non-white human beings are human beings. Human beings you don't happen to like, are human beings. Human beings incidentally, have rights.
ARE FED UP http://t.co/SY6HtNP9He
How can a man accused of selling loose cigarettes be killed with a banned chokehold with no consequences? I can't make it make sense.
An individual or institution can't kill Eric Garner in that fashion & not be held accountable. #ChokedWhilePoor New America's not having it.
Somebody's Eyes Are http://t.co/jhqFHBMPtJ LIVES MATTER. WE NEED THE FEDS FOR JUSTICE. These Grand Juries In… http://t.co/ZVPO3fhyUx
We're either shocked or we're shocked that we're not shocked #EricGarner #ICantBreathe
Just landed and heard the news. #ICantBreathe
I dare someone to say #EricGarner deserved to die & the police were just doing their job. I DARE THEM. I DOUBLE DOG DARE THEM. #ICantBreathe
“@brownmantshirts: I guess a video of a cop choking a man to death isn't enough evidence to prove a cop choked a man to death. #EricGarner”
How can you NOT indict a policeman for choking to death an unarmed man who screams 'I can't breathe' 8 times? #EricGarner
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The recordings led to years of protests and calls by black activists and liberal politicians for Pantaleo to lose his job. City officials had long insisted, though, they couldn't take action until criminal investigations were complete.
A state grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo in 2014. Federal authorities, however, kept a civil rights investigation open for five years before announcing last month they wouldn't bring charges.
Pantaleo's lawyer has insisted the officer used a reasonable amount of force and didn't mean to hurt Garner.
New York City's mayor has declined to say whether he believes Garner should lose his job but has been promising "justice" to the slain man's family.
Garner's death came at a time of a growing public outcry over police killings of unarmed black men that sparked the national Black Lives Matter movement.
Just weeks later, protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, over the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. And later in 2014, a man angry about the Garner and Brown cases shot two New York City police officers to death in their cruiser in retribution.
At a recent administrative trial at New York Police Department headquarters, Pantaleo's lawyers argued he used an approved "seat belt" technique to subdue Garner, who refused to be handcuffed after officers accused him of selling untaxed cigarettes.
In a bystander's video, it appeared that Pantaleo initially tried to use two approved restraint tactics on Garner, who was much larger at 6-foot-2 (188 centimeters) and about 400 pounds (180 kilograms), but ended up wrapping his arm around Garner's neck for about seven seconds as they struggled against a glass storefront window and fell to the sidewalk.
The footage showed Garner, who was 43 at the time, crying out, "I can't breathe," at least 11 times before he fell unconscious. The medical examiner's office said a chokehold contributed to Garner's death.
Questions about the handling of the case have dogged Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio during his long-shot run for president, with some protesters at the recent debate in Detroit chanting, "Fire Pantaleo."