Bill de Blasio dodges Eric Garner questions, calls George Floyd video ‘horrifying’
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday called the Minneapolis police officers’ actions that resulted in the death of George Floyd “horrifying” — as he dodged a question over his own inaction involving the police-involved death of Eric Garner.
During de Blasio’s daily coronavirus press briefing, he was put on the spot by a reporter about not immediately firing Daniel Pantaleo — the NYPD officer directly involved in the 2014 chokehold death of Garner — in light of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey quickly firing the four officers involved in the Monday death of Floyd.
Both black men died after excessive force at the hands of white police officers.
“I watched that video and my heart just broke,” said de Blasio in response, in reference to viral video footage that shows a white Minneapolis police officer with his knee pinning down the neck of a handcuffed Floyd, who, like, Garner, shouted, “I can’t breathe” and later died. In both cases, other officers were on the scene and did nothing to intervene.
“I could not believe the officers’ lack of concerns and it was horrifying and it just can’t go on this way,” de Blasio said, adding, “The fact is, and I think the authorities in Minnesota were right to say, this was something that needed to be acted on immediately.”
Four officers were fired immediately after video of the horrific incident emerged.
Hizzoner continued, “I’ve said from this point on in the city of New York, we’re going to act immediately as well. This kind of thing just can’t happen.”
When pressed by another reporter about why it took more than five years for Pantaleo to be fired over Garner’s death, de Blasio said, “The bottom line here is I’ve been really clear about the fact that we made a mistake.”
“I made a mistake in believing the US Department of Justice would do its job,” the mayor said, maintaining as he has from the beginning that after a Staten Island grand jury failed to indict Pantaleo, the NYPD and the mayor wanted to hold off on a disciplinary trial until after a federal civil rights probe.
In 2019, the Department of Justice declined to charge Pantaleo with criminal civil rights violations following a five-year investigation.
“When the city took over, there was due process. There was a trial. Our police commissioner made a decision — it was the right decision,” said de Blasio referring to then-NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, who ultimately fired Panatelo for causing the death of Garner.
De Blasio said, “We should have ignored the Department of Justice because what they did was unconscionable in not acting.”
When asked by a reporter whether he believes Garner would still be alive if he were white, de Blasio responded, “Absolutely.”
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