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Garner family seeks de Blasio, O'Neill testimony in chokehold death

Gwen Carr, center, is joined by family, advocates,

Gwen Carr, center, is joined by family, advocates, and supporters on the steps of City Hall in Manhattan on Tuesday. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Relatives of Eric Garner went to court Tuesday to compel Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill and others to testify about actions surrounding the Staten Island man's 2014 death after an apparent police chokehold, according to a family spokeswoman and city officials.

Garner’s mother Gwen Carr, his sister Ellisha Flagg Garner, and other supporters invoked a provision of the City Charter that allows five or more citizens to petition the court to take testimony about misconduct of city officials, according to legal papers filed in Manhattan State Supreme Court and made available to Newsday.  

“There is no area of local government where public accountability is more necessary than policing, especially when police conduct results in the loss of life,” the court papers stated, referring to Garner’s death following a July 17, 2014, confrontation with NYPD officers on a Staten Island street. “Yet, there has been scant information released by the City about Mr. Garner’s death."

The court petition listed several areas of potential inquiry, including violations and neglect of duties in connection with the officers' decision to stop and arrest Garner for selling loose cigarettes. The petition also cited the making of false statements about Garner’s criminal history, improper medical treatment given to him, and “neglect of duties” concerning the disciplinary process surrounding police as possible areas of inquiry.

In a related move, the Garner family filed a 30-page, wide-ranging Freedom of Information Law request with the NYPD and the Civilian Complaint Review Board for access to all city records in the case.

On Aug. 19, O'Neill followed the recommendation of an NYPD administrative judge and fired Officer Daniel Pantaleo for using an unauthorized chokehold that medical experts said contributed to Garner’s death after an asthma attack. NYPD Sgt. Kizzy Adonis settled her disciplinary case related to the fatal altercation and lost 20 vacation days. O’Neill said last week there would be no more internal disciplinary proceedings related to the Garner case.

A spokeswoman for O’Neill, in a response to the petition filing said: “The police commissioner promised the people of New York a fair, thorough and unbiased trial process, and that is precisely what occurred. Every [Freedom of Information Law] request will be evaluated on its merits, in full accordance with the law.”

 A spokesman for the city Law Department, which defends the city in legal cases, said the family's legal filing would be reviewed.


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