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Officers in Eric Garner's death will soon face NYPD charges, sources say

The department had said earlier this week that it would wait on the Justice Department until Aug. 31.

NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo at his Staten Island

NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo at his Staten Island home on July 2, 2015. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

NYPD officials have decided they will no longer wait but will instead immediately go forward with departmental charges — perhaps as early as next week — against two officers involved in the incident that led to the death of Eric Garner in July 2014, law enforcement sources said.

The department had said earlier this week that it would wait until Aug. 31 to see whether the U.S. Department of Justice  would commence a criminal case before bringing charges.

But on Wednesday night, a top NYPD official spoke with a senior Justice Department official who said the police department was free to commence disciplinary proceedings at any time, according to the sources.

An NYPD spokesman said earlier that departmental charges of lack of supervision were pending against Sgt. Kizzy Adonis. Police officials said charges of excessive force would be brought against Officer Daniel Pantaleo, the cop seen on an amateur video applying an apparent chokehold to Garner. Chokeholds to subdue suspects have been banned by the NYPD for more than 20 years. Charges against Pantaleo are expected next week, a source said.

Police confronted Garner, 43, on July 17, 2014, on a Staten Island street after there had been complaints that he was selling loose cigarettes. Garner died in the ensuing struggle with police on the sidewalk. The city medical examiner said Garner died as a result of neck compression, apparently from a chokehold, as well as chest compression. Garner’s obesity and asthma were contributing factors in his death, the medical examiner said.

In December 2014, a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict any officers involved in the arrest of Garner. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn then opened a criminal civil rights investigation but have yet to announce results.

News that the NYPD was accelerating the administrative process in the case got a critical response from the Garner family and its allies, who have grown impatient with the lack of any criminal or administrative charges.

Gwen Carr, who is Garner’s mother, said in a statement Thursday that more officers were involved in the incident that took her son’s life and they too should be the subject of disciplinary procedures.

“It’s past time for [Mayor Bill] de Blasio and the NYPD to stop playing games with my son's death and release the names of all the officers responsible for his murder, tried to cover it up, and engaged in other related misconduct, and bring disciplinary charges to fire all of them,” Carr said.

Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said Pantaleo "is entitled to a complete and impartial review of the facts" that will vindicate him.  

"We hope that the NYPD's eagerness to start the disciplinary process does not mean the outcome has already been decided, without even the pretense of due process," Lynch said in a statement Thursday.

Stuart London, an attorney for Pantaleo, on Thursday referred to Lynch's statement for comment on the case. An attorney for Adonis couldn’t be reached Thursday. 

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