Gwen Carr watched on Wednesday as defense witnesses contended Officer Daniel Pantaleo didn’t use a banned chokehold in her son’s death.
Emerging from NYPD’s headquarters after four hours of testimony, Carr said that the video of her son Eric Garner, dying on the street five years ago is all the evidence anyone needs to show he was choked to death.
“The whole world saw it was a chokehold no matter what they call it,” Carr told THE CITY outside of One Police Plaza in Manhattan, before heading back to her home in Staten Island.
“They can call it what they want, but it was a chokehold.”
After six days of proceeding in the Civilian Complaint Review Board trial against Pantaleo — who is facing punishment that could range from the loss of vacation days to firing — the defense rested. Closing arguments are set for Thursday.
The charges of assault and strangulation stem from Pantaleo’s actions on July 17, 2014, when he attempted to arrest Garner on Bay Street in Staten Island for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. The cop has been on desk duty since the incident, which was captured on video.
Garner’s words — “I can’t breathe!” — became rallying cry at protests, including demonstrations after a Staten Island grand jury failed to indict Pantaleo in late 2014.
The NYPD’s deputy commissioner of trials, Rosemarie Maldonado, will render a verdict and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill will decide what, if any, punishment Pantaleo will receive. There’s no timeline for a verdict.
Dr. Michael Graham, a St. Louis medical examiner brought in by Pantaleo’s defense as an expert witness, said Wednesday that Garner wasn’t killed by a chokehold.
And retired NYPD Sergeant Russell Jung, who trained Pantaleo at the Police Academy and was paid to testify by the defense team, said the officer used what’s called a “seatbelt maneuver” on Garner.
‘Professional Testimony’ Cited
“What we saw was professional testimony,” said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. “In the morning we had an expert, a trainer in our police academy, state professionally that the maneuver that was used was proper and taught in our police academy.”
A New York City medical examiner in May testified that a chokehold led to a “lethal cascade” of events, which ended Garner’s life.
“Their witnesses are being paid to say what they say,” Carr told THE CITY afterward, referring to the defense team. “Our witnesses just came forward. You don’t need to pay anyone to tell the truth.”
A Department of Justice official was spotted in the courtroom Wednesday, according to the Daily News. The department has until July 18 — five years and one day since the killing — to decide whether to file federal civil rights charges against Pantaleo.
In an interview with THE CITY last week, Carr said that anything short of jail time for all the officers who were at the scene of her son’s death doesn’t constitute justice for her or her family.
“No, none of that is justice — and [a loss of] vacation days we will just not accept,” said Carr.
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