A New York City officer testified Tuesday that he exaggerated the criminal charges against Eric Garner, who died after his chokehold arrest was caught on camera in 2014, to make it appear as he was committing a felony.
From the Associated Press, NYPD officer Justin Damico said—while in the ambulance with the dying 43-year-old—he filled out papers for a tax charge that would’ve warranted prosecutors to prove that Garner sold 10,000 untaxed cigarettes. Damico went on to admit that the charges were overblown as Garner had less than 100 Newports on him.
Authorities posthumously charged Garner for selling untaxed cigarettes and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors, the Associated Press reports. Garner’s death meant that the case never made it to court.
Damico’s testimony comes as officer Daniel Pantaleo faces disciplinary action for Garner’s fatal arrest on Staten Island. Pantaleo’s accused of using a prohibited chokehold to subdue Garner. A medical examiner later determined that the chokehold contributed to his death, according to The New York Times.
The controversial arrest was recorded, with Garner uttering, “I can’t breathe” before losing consciousness. The footage sparked protests and calls for prosecution in what many believed was a case of police brutality.
A year after his death, New York City agreed to settle with Garner’s family for $5.9 million. The Civilian Complaint Review Board, who brought forth the years-old case, must now prove that Pantaleo’s actions were criminal, even though he’s being tried internally and not in a criminal court.
The police commissioner will decide on Pantaleo’s punishment, which ranges from loss of vacation time to termination. The Associated Press reported that the hearing will resume on June 5.
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[Featured image: Eric Garner/Twitter]