NYPD cop Justin D'Amico testified today at the disciplinary hearing of detective Daniel Pantaleo, admitting that he falsified information in the wake of Eric Garner's death to protect his partner.
Pantaleo is the cop who used a chokehold banned by the department on Garner. The chokehold is known in MMA circles as the rear naked choke maneuver, which cut off Garner's ability to breathe.
"I can't breathe; I can't breathe!" Garner repeatedly gasped and pleaded with officers Pantaleo and D'Amico in July 2014— to no avail.
Neither of them listened.
"I can't breathe," would be Garner's last words in his final moments of consciousness.
Those three words "I can't breathe" would soon become a nationwide mantra uttered by concerned citizens across the country to highlight the seriousness and severity of police abuse across the U.S.
At trial, D'Amico responded to Civilian Complaint Board Attorney Suzanne O'Hare's questioning earlier today, saying he believed Garner was feigning and "playing possum" about not being able to breathe.
If killing Garner wasn't enough, after his death, D'Amico, one of the officers involved in arresting Garner for loose cigarettes, testified on May 21 and admitted to filling out and filing a felony tax charge against Garner to make it appear like he committed a serious offense, which they reckoned explained and justified his death.
And protected Pantaleo.
However, that charge did not fit the circumstances, which is likely the only reason why D'Amico told the truth at Pantaleo's administrative hearing.
The felony tax charge filed by D'Amico would have required prosecutors to prove Garner to have sold 10,000 untaxed cigarettes.
Today, nearly five years later, while under oath at Pantaleo's administrative hearing, D'Amico admitted the charge was incorrect and did not fit the circumstances.
Garner had less than 100 loose cigarettes in his possession when police attempted to arrest him, so it's evident he was trying to make Garner look like a cigarette kingpin when he was just selling what is known on the streets as "loosies."
Even after video of Garner's death surfaced and circulated national news outlets for weeks, thanks to Garner's friend Ramsey Orta who recorded the incident, no criminal charges were filed against Pantaleo after a jury refused to indict him.
Medical examiner Dr. Floriana Persechino previously testified that Garner's health issues, not the chokehold, was the cause of his death, according to the New York Post.
Today's trial came to an end after the judge gave Pantaleo's defense attorney until June 5 to fly in St. Louis medical examiner Michael Graham, who is expected to testify under oath, agreeing with yet another medical examiner Chief Surgeon Eli Kleinman that Garner's medical issues, and not the chokehold, killed Garner during the time of his arrest.
Pantaleo is currently on trial for violating department policy.
He could face up to and including termination if found guilty.