PBA's Lynch blasts city for firing officer over Garner death
By: The Blue Magazine Staff Writer
Five years ago, the names of NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo and Eric Garner became forever entwined after Garner died while being placed in Pantaleo’s perceived chokehold while resisting arrest. The incident was captured on video and drew massive media and online attention. Despite mounting public pressure, Pantaleo was not indicted by a grand jury and the Justice Department declined to press charges over Garner’s death.
Pantaleo was suspended yet kept his job, and the city reached a settlement with Garner’s family. Many assumed that the matter was essentially resolved, but that was not the case. Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill opted to dismiss Pantaleo after it was determined that he had violated a department ban on the use of chokeholds. As expected, the decision to terminate Pantaleo, and strip him of his pension, was a cause of celebration for his detractors.
However, for many of his fellow brothers and sisters in blue the dismissal was a miscarriage of justice and a slap in the face to law enforcement personnel everywhere. The most vocal critic of Pantaleo’s dismissal was the head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association of the City of New York, President Patrick J. Lynch. Lynch accused the city of not supporting its officers when they are simply doing their jobs.
“Police Commissioner O'Neill has made his choice: he has chosen politics and his own self-interest over the police officers he claims to lead. He has chosen to cringe in fear of the anti-police extremists, rather than standing up for New Yorkers who want a functioning police department, with cops who are empowered to protect them and their families. With this decision, Commissioner O'Neill has opened the door for politicians to dictate the outcome of every single NYPD disciplinary proceeding, without any regard for the facts of the case or police officers' due process rights,” said Lynch in a statement.
“He will wake up tomorrow to discover that the cop-haters are still not satisfied, but it will be too late. The damage is already done. The NYPD will remain rudderless and frozen, and Commissioner O'Neill will never be able to bring it back. Now it is time for every police officer in this city to make their own choice. We are urging all New York City police officers to proceed with the utmost caution in this new reality, in which they may be deemed 'reckless' just for doing their job. We will uphold our oath, but we cannot and will not do so by needlessly jeopardizing our careers or personal safety.”
Many in law enforcement no doubt echo Lynch’s concerns since they know that they are relying on their training while in the course of doing their jobs. They know that due to an increased focus on police misconduct that they are being scrutinized even more. So, believing that they may be thrown to the wolves in the name of politics or public relations is just another layer of stress they must deal with.
One must wonder how many officers are looking at Pantaleo’s firing and wondering if they could find themselves in the crosshairs if they are required to use force during an arrest. Should they back off and put themselves, or others, at risk by avoiding the use of any level of force? Or should they still use necessary force and potentially roll the dice with their careers if it is deemed as controversial? When officers are often called upon to make split second decisions in the line of duty they should not have to ponder whether the use of any type of force will cost them their jobs. Simply put, those doubts could cost them, or innocent civilians, their lives.
Upon the news that Pantaleo was fired, a GoFundMe page that had been set up on August 2nd reported that they it had received almost $60.000 in donations in one day. The goal of the page is to raise $150,000 to aid both Pantaleo and his family. To date, the page has received over $103,000 in donations. Anyone seeking further information on the page, or to make a donation, can go to: https://uk.gofundme.com/f/officer-daniel-pantaleos-family-legal-fund