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Daniel Pantaleo suffered the absolute minimal consequence for killing Eric Garner. The fact that the police union is throwing a tantrum is sick and outrageous.
August 21, 2019
photo above: Police Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch, left, speaks during a press conference at PBA headquarters following a decision to terminate Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who killed Eric Garner, Monday, Aug. 19. (AP Photo / Kathy Willens)
WN: The article speaks eloquently for itself. “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” — Lord Acton. After 45 years of working in criminal justice, I know way too many stories and statistics about police and guards! Add the race factor, and I’m with the writer all the way!
Daniel Pantaleo, the New York City police officer who choked an unarmed black man to death in broad daylight, was fired this week. While announcing the move, New York City Police Department Commissioner James O’Neill—who had the sole discretion to fire Pantaleo—blamed victim Eric Garner for “resisting arrest” and being in “poor health.” O’Neill declared, “If I was still a cop, I’d probably be mad at me” for firing Pantaleo.
And mad the cops are. Nobody is angrier than Pat Lynch, head of the New York City Police Benevolent Association. Reacting to the firing, Lynch said, “The rule of law has been ignored. The job has been dying; and today, the job is dead.”
Dead. Like Eric Garner, who was choked to death on the street while pleading for air? Dead. Like Tamon Robinson, a 27-year-old cashier from Brooklyn, who police allege ran into their patrol car while fleeing from officers? Dead. Like Ramarley Graham, an 18-year-old who was shot in his grandmother’s bathroom because police thought he had a gun, when in reality he was armed only with marijuana? Dead. Like Sean Bell, who was shot at 50 times on the eve of his wedding by police who erroneously thought he had a gun? Dead. Like Amadou Diallo, who was 23 years old when police fired 41 shots at him after they mistook his wallet for a gun?
Nothing would make me safer on the streets of New York than for the Pat Lynches of the world to determine that cracking black skulls is just not worth it anymore, hang up their jackboots, and leave the black and brown people of New York City in peace. Assalamualaikum, “mad” cops. I’ll gladly take my chances without you. At least then, if I’m murdered, it will be an illegal act, as opposed to a death that you all will try to justify because I once got a demerit in high school.
To put these numbers in context, the NYPD employs around 55,000 officers and civilian auxiliaries. The department made some 200,000 arrests in 2018. Usually, these stats are used to support the ridiculous claim that it’s just a “few bad apples” who are on the police force. But the cops and police boosters around the country misunderstand the meaning of the phrase. The line is “a few bad apples spoils the bunch.” Not “a few bad apples should be overlooked and fed to black and brown citizens until they choke to death on worms.”
The point of highlighting the relatively small number of cops and police employees who commit acts of violence and misconduct is to emphasize that divesting the police force of these people is something that could happen—easily. It would happen if cops and politicians ever decided to take black lives seriously. You could suspend every single officer ever accused of police misconduct, pending a thorough, impartial civilian investigation, and still be able to patrol the streets. You could fire every officer who uses brutal and violent tactics to secure an arrest, and still have plenty of officers capable of getting the job done. You could jail every officer who shoots an unarmed citizen, whether that officer thought he was justified or not, and nobody would miss them.
Police officers should be “mad” at Daniel Pantaleo for reminding me that fear and distrust of the police is the best survival strategy I can impart to my children. The officers who are mad instead at the department for firing Pantaleo should themselves be fired. They would be, if Commissioner O’Neill cared about my children or the other black and brown children that he is allegedly supposed to protect and serve.