NYPD Lieutenant’s Reaction After Learning Eric Garner Was Likely Dead: ‘Not a Big Deal’

An explosive text message from a NYPD supervisor was brought to light Thursday in the disciplinary trial of the Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer who put Eric Garner in a chokehold that resulted in a deadly asthma attack. The chokehold, a medical examiner testified, “would have compromised the neck and would have compromised the airway, making it difficult for [Garner] to breathe.”

After Lt. Christopher Bannon was told that Garner had no pulse and was most likely dead, he responded by text as follows: “Not a big deal, we were effecting a lawful arrest.” Sgt. Dhanan Saminath was the one who texted Bannon the update on the incident.

“When they took him down Eric went into cardiac arrest. He’s unconscious. Might be DOA,” Saminath said.

Bannon asked if it was for selling untaxed cigarettes and Saminath responded that it was.

“They observed him selling … Danny tried to grab him, they both went down. They called the [ambulance] ASAP. He’s most likely DOA. He has no pulse,” Saminath said.

That is when Bannon responded with the “Not a big deal” line.

Bannon said that his intent with the text was to comfort the officers involved.

“The reason was not to be malicious, [but] to make sure the officer knew he was put in a bad situation,” Bannon said. “Trying to put their mind a little bit at ease.”

The New York Daily News reported that when the text was read aloud in the court room, it drew gasps and anger from the people in the gallery. If Pantaleo is found to have violated NYPD rules, he could face a punishment ranging from the loss of vacation days to firing.

Back in 2014, a Staten Island grand jury did not indict Pantaleo for Garner’s death. Garner’s death, and the initial lack of a prosecution for Pantaleo, gained notoriety around the United States and helped spur the Black Lives Matter movement. Garner’s dying words of “I can’t breathe” became a rallying cry for for those who are outraged about how police around the country treat people of color.

[Image via CBSN New York screengrab]

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