(NBC NEWS) — Does justice delayed for five years still count as justice? Is losing your job sufficient punishment for homicide? Of course not. But when cops are the criminals, and people of color are the victims of their abuse, often there is no equal justice under the law.
Five years is how long it took for the New York Police Department to suspend Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who placed Eric Garner in a chokehold, a discredited law enforcement maneuver in which pressure is put on the subject’s neck to force compliance. NYPD officers have been banned from using chokeholds since 1993, because of the high risk of strangulation. (Pantaleo denies using a chokehold.)
Five years is how long it took for officials — a New York administrative judge, and on Monday, New York’s police commissioner — to finally acknowledge what activists and politicians had been saying for years: that at the very least, Pantaleo did not deserve to serve as a police officer in New York.
In July 2014, Pantaleo was arresting Garner for allegedly selling “loosies” — untaxed single cigarettes — in a park in Staten Island. Garner put his hands up, and the whole world has seen what happened next. Several officers tackled Garner, knocking him to the ground, where Pantaleo restrained Garner by placing his hands on Garner’s neck. Garner said “I can’t breathe” 11 times and then died on the hard, concrete street.
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