NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – An NYPD trial judge says the officer involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner five years ago on Staten Island should be fired.
The recommendation is reigniting anger on both sides, as protesters descended on NYPD headquarters Friday night.
The prosecution and the defense will each have a chance to make their case in the coming weeks before the police commissioner makes the final decision whether or not Daniel Pantaleo will stay on the force.
Protestors had a clear message for Mayor de Blasio, again chanting “fire Pantaleo” and “no justice, no peace.”
While the Police Benevolent Association insists Officer Pantaleo did nothing wrong.
“If there’s going to be justice here, for this city, Police Commissioner O’Neill needs to make the right decision and allow this police officer to go on with his career,” PBA president Patrick Lynch said.
Web Extra: PBA President Pat Lynch Responds To Judge’s Decision
Friday, NYPD trial judge Rosemarie Maldonado recommended that Pantaleo be fired for allegedly using a banned chokehold on Garner in 2014.
“It’s been five years and we finally got recommendation for what everyone knows should’ve been done years ago,” Public Advocate Jumanee Williams said.
“If someone says I’m not going, do you want us to just walk away? I think you may be getting that unfortunately because that’s the message from city hall,” Lynch countered – citing Garner’s actions when he was stopped by officers for illegally selling loose and untaxed cigarettes.
The PBA president insists the mayor foreshadowed this outcome during Wednesday night’s debate.
“I know the garner family. They’ve gone through extraordinary pain. They are waiting for justice and they’re going to get justice,” de Blasio said during the latest presidential debate.
De Blasio is adamant he has no authority to fire Pantaleo himself and has not told the police commissioner what to do.
“We listen to the United States Department of Justice and we respect their demand that we hold back,” the mayor said.
“I believe my role is to respect this process and respect the state law, and that’s the best way to get that closure.”
One thing both the protestors and the PBA agree on – de Blasio dropped the ball and now is trying to save face for the sake of his presidential campaign.
“You should watch his Pinocchio nose when he stands up there and says ‘I couldn’t do anything for five years cause the feds wouldn’t let me.’ That’s not true,” Lynch declared.
“Now when he’s running on the national stage he wants to say well that’s someone else’s fault.”
“He shouldn’t be running for president,” Monifa Bandele, a human rights activist added.
“He thinks New Yorkers are stupid enough to believe a disciplinary process has to wait for DOJ process that’s about federal charges when a disciplinary process is about a violation of departmental rules. Those are two different things.”
Pantaleo had already been on desk duty and following the judge’s recommendation he was suspended without pay, which the NYPD says is procedure.