Daniel Pantaleo, NYPD Officer Who Placed Eric Garner In Deadly Chokehold, Faced Previous Complaints

 @TreyeGreen t.green@ibtimes.com on July 24 2014 12:14 PM
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A picture of Eric Garner is seen on a newspaper at his memorial in Staten Island, New York. Garner died on July 17 after New York police put him in a chokehold. The cause of Garner's death is still being determined by the city's medical examiner. Reuters

The NYPD officer who was captured on video placing a Staten Island man in a chokehold had a complaint filed against him following a March 2012 traffic stop. 

Darren Collins, 46, and Tommy Rice, 43, filed the complaint against Pantaleo after they said he publicly strip-searched them after pulling over their Nissan Maxima on the morning of March 22, 2012. The men also claimed Pantaleo “slapped” and “tapped” their testicles during the process, according to official documents on the filing obtained by the New York Daily News.

The complaint was filed with the Civilian Complaint Review Board in April 2012.

Four plainclothes officers, including Pantaleo, pulled over the vehicle Collins and Rice were riding in. The officers said they had witnessed a hand-to-hand drug transaction occur among the men in the car.

When Collins and Rice got out of the vehicle, the CCRB documents say that Pantaleo “removed Mr. Rice’s belt, causing Mr. Rice’s pants to sag down to the middle of his thigh. Mr. Rice was wearing boxer shorts under his pants and they became visible when his pants started to sag. PO Pantaleo pulled Mr. Rice’s pants down to his knees and then pulled his boxer shorts down.” The documents go on to say that the officer touched Rice’s privates.

The documents say that Pantaleo claimed that he was trying to “shake out any contraband” that may have been on Rice. Collins story echoed the claims of Rice, saying Pantaleo and Sgt. Ignaczio Conca removed his clothing and shoes and pulled his pants and underwear to his knees.

Though drugs were found on the third person in the vehicle, no drugs were found on either Collins or Rice.

Following an investigation, during which Pantaleo said he did not pull down the men’s pants or underwear, the men’s allegation was found to be unable to be substantiated. The lack of facts left investigators unable to determine if the situation had occurred, but the CCRB docs did note that the officers involved in the alleged incident gave differing stories on why the vehicle was pulled over.

The criminal charges against Collins and Rice were eventually dismissed. In January of this year, the suit was settled, with each of the men receiving $15,000. 

Pantaleo has been with the NYPD for eight years. He and a second officer were placed on desk duty for their role in the forceful arrest on July 17 that ended with the death of 43-year-old Eric, reports ABC. Pantaleo was also stripped of his gun and badge.

Pantaleo was captured on cell phone video placing Garner in a chokehold, a move prohibited by the NYPD. Garner can be seen in the video becoming upset as officers attempt to handcuff him under suspicion that he was selling loose cigarettes on the sidewalk. The Staten Island man refused to let officers handcuff him and told them he had been doing nothing wrong. 

Police Commissioner William Bratton said on Friday that the video then shows Garner being placed in what looks to be a chokehold. In the footage, Garner tells officers that he can’t breathe as they force him to the ground and cuff him. Garner screamed “I can’t breathe!” six times before he went silent.

The father of six and grandfather of two was taken to Richmond University Medical Center and pronounced dead on arrival.

Garner’s death has sparked outrage over the tactics used by the NYPD to detain suspects. A protest was held on Tuesday in front of City Hall in lower Manhattan, with activist denouncing the NYPD’s use of excessive force.

According to medical examiner spokeswoman Julie Bolcer, the cause of Garner’s death has yet to be determined. But authorities said they believe he may have died of a heart attack. 

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