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2020 Dems call for NYPD officer in Eric Garner case to be fired

2020 Dems call for NYPD officer in Eric Garner case to be fired
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Democrats running for president in 2020 called for the New York City police officer accused of killing Eric Garner to be fired.

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The calls come after Deputy Police Commissioner Rosemarie Maldonado recommended Friday that the NYPD dismiss officer Daniel Pantaleo. Shortly after the recommendation was made, Pantaleo was suspended, though the ultimate decision as to whether he should be terminated rests with New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill.

“Commissioner O’Neill: fire Officer Pantaleo. The Garner family has been waiting five years for justice and it's time they got it,” Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisThe Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation Biden can rebuild trust in our justice system by prioritizing prosecutorial reform Harris says she has 'not yet' spoken to Pence MORE (D-Calif.) tweeted.

“Maldonado is right. Pantaleo needs to go—now,” Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerSenate Democrats reelect Schumer as leader by acclamation  Hill associations push for more diversity in lawmakers' staffs Sanders celebrates Biden-Harris victory: 'Thank God democracy won out' MORE (D-N.J.) echoed. 

Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation Disney laying off 32,000 workers as coronavirus batters theme parks Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year MORE (D-Mass.) said Garner’s killing showed the need for “more civilian oversight to hold police accountable when they fail” and Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandDemocratic senators urge Facebook to take action on anti-Muslim bigotry Social media responds to Harris making history: 'I feel like our ancestors are rejoicing' Ocasio-Cortez says she doesn't plan on 'staying in the House forever' MORE (D-N.Y.) resurfaced comments from Wednesday night’s primary debate in which she called for Pantaleo’s dismissal.

Former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeMexican president breaks with other world leaders, refusing to acknowledge Biden win until election is finalized Mexico emerging as foreign policy challenge for Biden Beyoncé sports pro-Biden mask on Instagram MORE (D-Texas) added "There must be accountability — and there must be justice."

“Officer Daniel Pantaleo murdered a man in front of his business as he cried out for help. The NYPD must fire him. Anything less proves they're not taking police brutality seriously. Lives were forever changed by this officer's actions. There must be justice. #BlackLivesMatter,” billionaire philanthropist and activist Tom SteyerTom SteyerBiden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far Late donor surges push election spending projections to new heights New voters surge to the polls MORE tweeted. 

Many 2020 candidates have made concerted efforts this election cycle to appeal to African American voters and cast themselves as supporters of several social justice movements as an increasingly progressive base demands action to rectify historic racial inequities.

Garner’s 2014 killing sparked a wave of activism aimed at underlining police officers’ use of force against people of color. Viral video of his death, in which Pantaleo is seen placing Garner, who was unarmed, in a headlock after he was allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes. 

His final words, “I can’t breathe,” became a rallying cry of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Garner testified earlier this year that the officer’s chokehold led to a “lethal cascade” of events that resulted in his death. 

The incident garnered national headlines again this week when protesters interrupted the Democratic primary debate shouting for Pantaleo’s firing when New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioMacy's will still hold Thanksgiving Day Parade amid pandemic The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - COVID-19 fears surround Thanksgiving holiday New York City to add COVID-19 checkpoints at bridges, crossings MORE was giving his opening remarks. 

De Blasio and other local officials have faced mounting pressure in recent weeks over Pantaleo’s employment status, particularly after the Justice Department announced it would not charge him over Garner’s death. 

Pantaleo’s defense team has blamed Garner’s “compromised respiratory system” for his death and claimed he was resisting arrest.

Updated at 5:47 p.m.