The officer at the center of the controversy surrounding the choke hold and death of a Staten Island man last week has been embroiled in civil rights litigation before, according to court records.
Daniel Pantaleo, and the city, settled a $30,000 lawsuit in January with two Staten Island men who accused of him, and other officers, of unlawfully stopping their vehicle in 2012, frisking them and ordering a "humiliating" strip search in public, according to court records.
On Thursday Pantaleo allegedly placed Eric Garner in a choke hold while trying to arrest him for allegedly selling illegal cigarettes. According to video footage of the arrest, Garner, handcuffed and on the ground, started complaining he couldn't breath.
Pantaleo was put on modified desk duty and had both his badge and gun taken away following the death of Eric Garner on Friday. A second officer was also placed on desk duty and four EMS workers were placed on modified duty following the incident.
The medical examiner has yet to determine a cause of death in that incident.
In the March 2012 lawsuit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court, the two men, 45-year-old Darren Collins and 42-year-old Tommy Rice, said they were forced to pull their pants and underwear down, squat and cough at about 10 a.m., but said they did not have any weapons or illegal substances on them. Collins and Rice said they were then taken to the local precinct and forced to remove all of their clothing, squat and lift their genitals, according to court records.
They said they were held until the next day and "suffered physical pain and mental anguish" over the incident, court records said. These incidents were first reported by the Staten Island Advance.
In February a $1 million civil rights suit, which is still open, was filed in Manhattan Federal Court against Pantaleo, the city, and one other officer by Rylawn Walker, according to court records. Walker accused Pantaleo of arresting him in 2012 for marijuana-related offenses, but contends he was not committing a crime, the Advance reported.
A spokesman for the New York City Law Department, which represented Pantaleo in both cases, declined to comment on the Walker suit. The spokesman did not return a request for comment on the Collins, Rice lawsuit.