Let’s get real about the Pantaleo-Garner case

The city’s body politic seems to have been galvanized by the idea that NYPD officer, rightly or wrongly, must be fired.

So how will Mayor Bill de Blasio’s presidential run affect the fate of NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo over the “chokehold” death of Eric Garner? It may not help Pantaleo.

How’s it going to look for a so-called progressive candidate if the mayor’s normally pliant police commissioner somehow allows the NYPD’s most vilified officer to “vest out” so he can at least receive a portion of his pension? Not good for candidate Bill. Which means the worst for Pantaleo.

Indeed, the city’s body politic seems to have been galvanized by the idea that Pantaleo, rightly or wrongly, must be fired. A New York Times opinion writer weighed in with a column, which was misleading from the first paragraph to nearly the last. “As Eric Garner lay dying,” Mara Gay wrote, “he was gasping for air and bleeding in his neck and eyes. The arm of a New York police officer was pressed hard against his throat.”

According to testimony from none other than Ramsey Orta, the man who captured the “I can’t breathe” video, Pantaleo’s arm was not around Garner’s throat when Garner was gasping for air and said he couldn’t breathe.

When an outcome turns bad, the NYPD makes it up as it goes along, circling the wagons and setting up the most vulnerable officer. Two supervisors on the scene also played key roles in Garner’s death. You haven’t heard much from the NYPD about them, though.

Garner was a 390-pound man with asthma, a heart condition, and 29 priors, mostly for selling loose cigarettes. He was a chronic nuisance to police in Staten Island. Twenty-nine arrests obviously did no good. So what about taking a different approach? What about consulting with him, his family or his minister? Isn’t that what de Blasio’s neighborhood policing is supposed to be about?

Anyone with half a brain gets that black Americans have historically gotten the short end at every turn from virtually every governmental agency. This is especially true of the police.

In Garner’s case, we must remember, there were two sergeants on the scene. Neither made any mention of the supposed chokehold. It took Orta’s cellphone video to bring it to light.

If the NYPD wants to get real about accountability, it needs to hold public hearings about this. Otherwise, how can people conclude anything other than Garner’s death was “not a big deal” as a Staten Island lieutenant texted before learning the full dimension of the case.

Len Levitt