Officer Accused Of Killing Eric Garner Makes First Appearance In NYPD Trial

December 06, 2018 - 1:34 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A department trial date has been set for the Staten Island officer who allegedly put Eric Garner in a chokehold, causing his death.

Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, said she felt uneasy seeing officer Daniel Pantaleo in the court room for the first time Thursday.

“It was mixed emotions. I felt sort of numb being in the same space with my son's murderer,” Carr told reporters.

A Staten Island grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo over four years ago, but appeared Thursday at a hearing for the departmental trial set for May 13, 2019.

Meanwhile, civil rights leader Kristen John Foy says Pantaleo continues to collect a paycheck and pension benefits.

“No matter what happens, he's gonna walk away enriched on the taxpayer's dollar after having murdered Eric Garner on international television,” Foy said.

Garner’s final moments, caught on video, sparked national outrage and his final words, “I can’t breathe,” became a rallying cry for the social justice movement against police brutality.

“He choked a man to death, who say 11 times, ‘I can’t breathe,” and at some point, even if he did not remember his training and the policy, you would think human decency would have kicked in when you are holding somebody and they are begging for their life,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Pantaleo’s appearance at police headquarters was brief, but the actual trial could last for weeks and may cost Pantaleo his job.

“He had an acute asthmatic attack. He was obese. He was handcuffed in a prone position,” Pantaelo’s attorney Stuart London told reporters. “Any medical expert will show that not only was there no chokehold, but when he was indicating 'I can't breathe,' his arm was not around the neck at all.”

The Department of Justice gave the NYPD permission to proceed with the trial last July.