‘Not a big deal’ NYPD Lt. texted after Eric Garner’s death

An NYPD lieutenant assured an underling shortly after Eric Garner’s fatal arrest that the situation was “not a big deal,” it was revealed on the fourth day of Officer Daniel Pantaleo’s departmental trial, drawing gasps from Garner’s family.

With 120th Precinct Lt. Christopher Bannon on the stand at One Police Plaza for the defense on Thursday, Civilian Complaint Review Board attorney Suzanne O’Hare displayed on a large, flat-screen TV a series of text messages between Bannon and Sgt. Dhanan Saminath.

“Danny [Pantaleo] and Justin [D’Amico, Pantaleo’s partner] went to collar Eric Garner. When they took him down, Eric resisted,” Saminath texted Bannon shortly after Pantaleo allegedly used a banned chokehold to subdue Garner on Staten Island in July 2014. “[Garner] went into cardiac arrest. He’s unconscious.”

“Might be DOA.”

Bannon, who was in a meeting at the time, wrote back, “Not a big deal. We were affecting a lawful arrest.”

The exchange elicited gasps from Garner’s relatives — including his mom, Gwen Carr — who were seated in the gallery, prompting the judge to ask them to refrain from commenting.

Garner, 43, was on the NYPD’s radar for peddling untaxed, loose cigarettes along his St. George street corner.

Bannon testified that he made the comment to calm his cops’ in the first hours of what would become a firestorm.

“The reason was not to be malicious, [but] to make sure the officer knew he was put in a bad situation,” said Bannon. “Trying to put their mind a little bit at ease.”

Asked if he would agree that Garner — who gasped, “I can’t breathe” as Pantaleo restrained him — was “put in a bad situation,” Bannon replied, “I don’t know how to answer that question. It’s a big deal if someone dies during any arrest.”

Earlier Thursday, the CCRB rested its case as Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch looked on from the gallery, turning the reins over to Pantaleo’s defense.

If found guilty of violating department policy, Pantaleo could face penalties up to and including termination — though NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill was mum on Wednesday when asked whether he would accept the recommendation of Deputy Chief of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado.

Source: Read Full Article