Senior officer Justin D’Amico caught in web of lies surrounding Eric Garner’s death
New York City Police Officer Justin D’Amico testified publicly about the death of Eric Garner for the first time this week. In so doing, he exposed a web of lies, lies that could very well have led to Officer Daniel Pantaleo skating after a medical examiner ruled that Garner’s death was a homicide.
D’Amico was the senior officer that fateful day in July 2014; he was the officer in charge of “quality of life” infractions.
“The words ‘I can’t breathe’ tells you who causes his death… [Pantaleo] gave his victim a death sentence over loose cigarettes,” attorney Jonathan Fogel told the Civilian Complaint Review Board earlier this month. The independent Civilian Complaint Review Board has charged Pantaleo with reckless use of a chokehold and intentional restriction of breathing in the 2014 death of Eric Garner.
D’Amico testified at the administrative trial on Tuesday. The trial has been placed on hold until June; the statute of limitations for federal action expires in July.
How many lies?
D’Amico lied when he knowingly charged a dead man with a felony not supported by evidence.
D’Amico lied about his ability to witness a cigarette sale from 328 feet.
D’Amico refused to accurately describe a photo of Pantaleo with his arm around Garner’s neck.
D’Amico claimed without evidence that he had previously given Garner a warning for selling individual cigarettes.
With sloppy testimony like this, is it any surprise the grand jury failed to indict?
Lawyers lie, too
Pantaleo’s lawyer, Stuart London claimed that Pantaleo used “an academy-taught ‘seatbelt technique‘ not a chokehold.”
Inspector Richard Dee, commanding officer of recruit training at the NY Police Academy, said Pantaleo’s hand position “meets the definition of a chokehold.”
Dee also said that there is no record of Pantaleo being trained in the “seatbelt technique.”
Remember: these officers initiated a confrontation with an unarmed man who may have been committing a misdemeanor. The stock “but I feared for my life” defense was AWOL.
Last week, the NYC medical examiner who performed the autopsy testified:
… that a police officer’s chokehold set into motion “a lethal sequence of events,” but she said even a bear hug could’ve hastened his death given Garner’s fragile health. Hemorrhaging in Garner’s neck muscles was indicative of a chokehold that set off an asthma attack and led to him going into cardiac arrest following a confrontation with New York City police officers in 2014, Dr. Floriana Persechino said.
The defense is calling an ME from Missouri to rebut the NYC medical examiner. This is the reason for recess until June.
In case you missed it
It may be almost five years later, but because there has been no public trial or hearing, we are only now learning how cavalier the NYPD was about Garner’s death in July 2014.
Lt. Christopher Bannon was the commanding officer at the 120th precinct on the night that Garner died (remember, the medical examiner called it a homicide).
In Tuesday’s testimony, O’Hare asked D’Amico if officers attempted to make Garner stand after he was unresponsive “because you believed he was playing possum?”
“Yes,” D’Amico said.
“You didn’t know if Mr. Garner was breathing at that point did you?” she asked.
“At that point, we did not,” he replied.
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For a detailed examination of D’Amico’s testimony, read my post on Medium.
Featured image: Paul Silva, Flickr