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 Devi HarrisThis week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime Juan Williams: Black votes matter Clyburn: Biden 'suffered' from not doing 'enough' in early debates MORE (D-Calif.) tweeted.

“Maldonado is right. Pantaleo needs to go—now,” Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDemocrats' Obama-to-Sanders shift on charter schooling This week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime Juan Williams: Black votes matter MORE (D-N.J.) echoed. 

Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Sanders most searched, most tweeted about candidate during Democratic debate 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 GillibrandNow is the time for a US data protection agency The Hill's Campaign Report: Warren up, Bloomberg down after brutal debate Ginsburg, accepting lifetime achievement award, urges working fathers to take an active role in kids' lives 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'RourkeCNN signs Andrew Yang as contributor Krystal Ball: Voters are coming to their own judgements about who is electable Warren campaign to host series of events in Texas 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 Fahr SteyerWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Sanders most searched, most tweeted about candidate during Democratic debate 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 BlasioPlease bring back the old (pragmatic, centrist) Mike Bloomberg De Blasio to Buttigieg: 'Try to not be so smug when you just got your ass kicked' New York attorney general threatens to sue NYC over alleged taxi fraud 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.