Four EMS workers placed on modified desk duty as part of chokehold investigation
The FDNY placed four EMS workers -- two EMTs and two paramedics -- on modified desk duty Sunday as part of the investigation into the death of a Staten Island man who was placed in a chokehold by a police officer while being arrested last week.
The EMS workers, who were not identified, are privately employed by the Richmond University Medical Center, said an official with knowledge of the investigation. They will not be allowed to respond to 911 calls.
Eric Garner, 43, died while in police custody Thursday after being arrested and placed into a chokehold for allegedly selling individual, untaxed cigarettes.
"It's a high-profile case so we're looking at the response and the operation of that case," the official said.
On Saturday, Officer Daniel Pantaleo, an eight-year veteran of the NYPD, had his badge and gun taken away and was placed on modified duty, police said. A second, unidentified officer who was present during the incident, was placed on desk duty, police said.
Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolman's Benevolent Association, the police's union, called Pantaleo's modified duty a "completely unwarranted, kneejerk reaction for political reasons and nothing more."
In a sermon Sunday, Rev. Al Sharpton called on other religious leaders to take action, citing video footage captured during in the incident in which Garner can apparently be heard repeatedly gasping "I can't breathe."
"Even if police procedure doesn't kick in, when does your sense of humanity kick in?" Sharpton said.
In addition to the restrictions placed on them by the FDNY, the Richmond University Medical Center is internally evaluating the four EMS workers “through a quality assurance process,” spokeswoman Stefanie Racano said in an e-mail.
(With Emily Ngo)