The disciplinary trial of a New York City police officer who used what has been described as a "chokehold" on Eric Garner in 2014 opened on Monday.
The trial of Daniel Pantaleo comes nearly five years after widely seen video of Garner’s arrest on suspicion of selling loose cigarettes sparked a national outcry. Garner, 43, told officers "I can't breathe" during the arrest. He died shortly after.
In the first day of the trial, Stuart London, one of Pantaleo’s lawyers, dramatically tore up a copy of the official autopsy report by the chief medical examiner’s office. It ruled that Garner was killed in part by a chokehold compressing his neck. The New York Police Department has banned its officers from using chokeholds for decades, Reuters reports.
“The evidence will show that the ultimate autopsy was wrong,” London said, at times saying the officer used a “neck hold” rather than a chokehold. “Officer Pantaleo was justified in using physical force to make this arrest,” he said, noting that Garner can be seen in video shouting and arguing with the officers trying to arrest him.
Pantaleo, 33, who has been assigned to a desk job since the Garner incident, could lose his job after the conclusion of a trial at the New York Police Department’s Manhattan headquarters, which is expected to last 10 days. The ultimate decision will rest with Police Commissioner James O’Neill.