NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Eric Garner’s mother and protesters are putting pressure on Mayor de Blasio to fire an NYPD officer who will not face charges for her son’s death.
But the mayor is instead placing the blame on federal officials and punting the decision about the officer’s fate to the NYPD commissioner.
“The de Blasio administration has blocked us,” Gwen Carr said. “He can fire the officer at any time.”
Garner’s mother denounced the mayor on CBS This Morning. Gov. Cuomo is also criticizing the mayor’s actions in the “hot potato” case.
“This is an issue that should have been handled by the New York authorities much earlier on,” Cuomo said.
Sources tell CBS2 that Rev. Al Sharpton told the mayor, point blank, that he should use all his powers to force Commissioner James O’Neill to fire Officer Daniel Pantaleo.
Pantaleo is accused of using a banned chokehold in the arrest of Garner on a Staten Island street. Garner was seen on video arguing and then resisting officers who were arresting him for illegally selling untaxed and loose cigarettes in front of a store.
CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reports the mayor, running a longshot campaign for president, needs the support of black voters to have any shot in 2020.
Afraid of further alienating cops however, de Blasio has adopted a two-pronged strategy – let Commissioner O’Neill make the decision next month once he gets the findings of a department disciplinary trial.
“Every American is entitled to due process,” the mayor said.
The second part is to attack the Justice Department and Attorney General William Barr for deciding not to bring criminal charges against Pantaleo.
“The mistake here was believing that the Justice Department was going to do its job,” de Blasio claimed.
“I think if you are blaming the federal government alone you are missing the point,” Gov. Cuomo shot back at de Blasio’s blame game.
The mayor repeatedly defended his blame-and-deflect tactic.
“I’m not issuing an opinion because I respect that this process has to play out,” he said.
Kramer however, pushed de Blasio on why a man running for president wasn’t able to make a firm decision on the issue.
“If you’re the president of the United States… want to lead the nation… don’t you think you should have an opinion on something that has roiled the nation and the city for five years?” Kramer asked.
“I feel very strongly as someone who wants to be president that what leaders do is look at our legal system, look at what matters for making our institutions work for people, and not because of political gain,” de Blasio replied.
“Being a leader takes a lot of restraint, a lot of restraint, being a leader takes a lot of patience,” he added.
Speaking of patience, community leaders say they’re out of it. They are taking their protest to the mayor’s doorstep at Gracie Mansion on Thursday.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the police commissioner said he would have no comment, “to insure the integrity of the process.”