Officer in Eric Garner case: I never used chokehold

Posted at 6:42 PM, Dec 10, 2014

From Shimon Prokupecz


NEW YORK (CNN) — Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer who a New York grand jury decided not to indict in the death of Eric Garner, spoke with internal affairs investigators about the case this week.

“He indicated he never used a chokehold,” said Stuart London, Pantaleo’s attorney. “He used a takedown technique he was taught in the academy. He said he never exerted any pressure on the windpipe and never intended to injure Mr. Garner.”

London said Pantaleo had been trying to arrest “someone who was noncompliant.” Speaking to investigators about the case on Monday, “he was confident and related the facts in an accurate and professional manner,” London said.

Garner died in July after Pantaleo and other officers tried to arrest Garner, who they said was suspected of illegally selling cigarettes.

A cell phone video of the arrest shows Pantaleo wrapping his arm around Garner’s neck. A medical examiner ruled the death a homicide. New York’s police commissioner announced shortly afterward that officers would undergo a three-day retraining period on the proper use of force when engaging a suspect.

The controversial case has ignited protests across the country after the grand jury decided not to indict Pantaleo last week. Garner’s last words, “I can’t breathe,” have become a rallying cry during demonstrations. Critics say Pantaleo should have been indicted and say the case highlights problems in the criminal justice system.

The police internal affairs investigation aims to determine whether Pantaleo violated department policy. The New York Police Department prohibits use of chokeholds

New York Police Commissioner William Bratton has said the investigation, which had been on hold during the criminal investigation, is expected to take at least three months.

Investigators started interviewing other officers who witnessed the incident on Friday.

CNN’s Jason Carroll and Catherine E. Shoichet contributed to this report.

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