Officer in ‘I Can’t Breathe’ Chokehold Was ‘Untruthful,’ Judge Says

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The account Officer Daniel Pantaleo gave after Eric Garner died was “implausible and self-serving,” according to the opinion obtained by The New York Times. ImageOfficer Daniel Pantaleo in May 2019. He has been suspended from the New York Police Department since Aug. 2. CreditCreditEduardo Munoz Alvarez/Associated PressAug 18, 2019When internal affairs investigators asked Officer Daniel Pantaleo in 2014 to define a chokehold, he described a scenario where “you use your forearm, grasped with the other hand, and you pull back with your forearm onto the windpipe preventing him from breathing.”The investigators with the New York Police Department then had him watch video that showed him standing behind Eric Garner during a botched arrest five months earlier on Staten Island. In the video, Officer Pantaleo had his left forearm wrapped around Mr. Garner’s neck, hands clasped. Still, he denied having used the prohibited maneuver.“No, I did not,” Officer Pantaleo said.An administrative judge, in a 46-page opinion obtained by The New York Times, found this explanation “implausible and self-serving.”The judge, Rosemarie Maldonado, who has recommended that Officer Pantaleo be fired, concluded that he had been “untruthful” during the interview, according to the opinion that grew out of a departmental trial that ended in June. Judge Maldonado, a deputy commissioner with the Police Department, also found that officers who testified in Officer Pantaleo’s defense were “unhelpful or unreliable.”A final decision about Officer Pantaleo’s fate rests with the police commissioner, and will come five years after the death of Mr. Garner — who uttered “I can’t breathe” 11 times — first galvanized the Black Lives Matter movement. Judge Maldonado said the video of the July 17, 2014, encounter and an autopsy that found fresh hemorrhaging in Mr. Garner’s neck muscl

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