The cop who appeared to use a chokehold during the fatal arrest of a Staten Island man in June has told NYPD Internal Affairs investigators that he didn't use a chokehold, but rather a takedown. Testifying Monday in the department's internal investigation into the death of Eric Garner, officer Daniel Pantaleo insisted he "used a takedown maneuver," not a chokehold, and that any contact with Garner's neck was "incidental."
This new spin on Garner's tragic death comes from Pantaleo's attorney, who tells the NY Post (naturally), "He never intended to harm Mr. Garner, nor did he ever apply any pressure to his neck area. We have always maintained it was never a chokehold. It was takedown procedure he was instructed in how to perform while in the police academy."
According to Pantaleo's lawyer, Stuart London, "You have to look at the video many times to see that, while his arm is technically around Mr. Garner’s neck, if no pressure is exerted restricting his ability to breath, then it’s not a chokehold." Chokeholds have been prohibited by the NYPD since 1993. The term "takedown" is much more nebulous, but it did pop up in the recent Senate torture report detailing "hard takedowns" used by the CIA on detainees.
The city's Medical Examiner ruled Garner's death a homicide, determining that Garner died from "compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police." The NYPD Internal Affairs Department investigation is expected to take at least two months, and Pantaleo's lawyer is confident his client will face no disciplinary action.