The New York City Police Department took a step forward yesterday by finally firing Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who murdered Eric Garner more than five years ago by using an illegal chokehold and then ignoring Garner’s repeated pleas for help. But the 11 other police officers who were on the scene or supervising share responsibility for Garner’s murder. Some of them stood by while Pantaleo choked Garner to death or lied to help cover up this crime – and none has been charged or even disciplined by the police department. So the accountability must not stop here.
While Daniel Pantaleo lost his job, the Garner family lost a son and a father who was falsely accused of nothing more than the minor, nonviolent infraction of selling cigarettes. The long delay in holding anyone accountable for Garner’s killing and related misconduct has brought immeasurable pain to the Garner family and justifiable outrage from the public and from communities of color, in particular, which are disproportionately victimized by police violence.
The decision to fire Officer Pantaleo was long overdue, and so are immediate, meaningful steps to end the undeniable, indefensible pattern of aggressive, selective police enforcement that took Eric Garner’s life and the lives of so many other people of color. Failure to improve transparency and accountability only compounds the pain and injustice, even as the use of excessive force against people of color continues in New York City and across our country. We need significant, measurable reform of police procedures now.
Never again should any mom lose a loved one to those who have sworn to protect us all.
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