The officer who killed Eric Garner got a big raise. The man who filmed him is in jail.
It’s been over two years since Officer Daniel Pantaleo’s illegal chokehold killed Eric Garner, and despite the national fallout, the officer is making more money than before the fatal encounter. Even though he’s been on desk duty ever since, the officer has racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars.
During fiscal year 2016, the officer received $119,996 — over $40,000 more than his official base salary of $78,026, according to payroll records obtained by Politico. The total amount includes $23,220 of overtime pay and $12,853 of “unspecified pay.”
It’s also a 14 percent increase from FY 2015, when he killed Garner. That year, he made $105,061.
Meanwhile, the man who filmed the chokehold — and Garner’s now famous dying words, “I can’t breathe”— is headed to jail. Ramsey Orta charged that he’s been harassed and arrested by the police for filming Garner’s death. Within a year of capturing and circulating the footage, Orta was arrested and jailed at Rikers Island at least twice. While locked up, he was scared to eat the food, because he thought prison officials would try to poison him.
In January, Orta told Democracy Now that cops once filmed him during an arrest, and said, “You filmed us, so now we’re filming you.”
He recently received a four-year jail sentence for separate drugs and weapons counts. He maintains that the NYPD is intentionally targeting him for payback.
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As Orta heads to jail, Pantaleo’s pay bump indicates that his reputation internally has remained unscathed.
Pantaleo was never charged for using the illegal chokehold, which was banned by the New York Police Department (NYPD), against Garner, even though it was filmed on a witness’ cellphone. A grand jury decided Pantaleo didn’t deserve to go to trial, after a prosecutor spent months — an atypical amount of time — presenting evidence to its voting members.
While Garner’s death fueled national outrage about extrajudicial killings — compounded by Michael Brown’s shooting in Ferguson — Pantaleo was backed by the city’s powerful police union president, Patrick Lynch, who went so far as to call the officer an “Eagle Scout.”
“What’s also been lost is the character of police officer Daniel Pantaleo,” he said. “What’s not being told is what kind of man and what kind of person and what kind of professional he is. He is a resident of this great city. He lives on Staten Island. He lives in those neighborhoods. He’s college educated, here in this city. He’s a mature, mature police officer who’s motivated by serving the community.”
The Department of Justice’s investigation of the fatal incident is ongoing, and the NYPD’s is nearly finished. Based on the records obtained by Politico, no disciplinary actions have been taken against Pantaleo — likely due to robust union protections that often stymie investigations and shield misconduct.