July 17 is the fifth anniversary of the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died after selling loose cigarettes when P.O. Daniel Pantaleo allegedly used an illegal chokehold maneuver in order to arrest him for the misdemeanor offense.
This week Pantaleo faced disciplinary proceedings by the Civilian Complaint Review Board for allegedly violating the banned chokehold procedure, according to the CCRB. However, if the prosecutors in this case can’t argue that he was guilty of using the tactic there is a possibility that he could get his job back at the NYPD.
In any event, the district attorney’s office and the NYPD work closely when it comes to taking on crime, but when it comes to prosecuting an officer for possible police misconduct the public has seen little to no action on that front.
Thus, QCP reached out to all seven district attorney candidates and asked them whether or not they would recuse themselves in police misconduct cases and why. Below are their answers:
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz: “In cases where a police officer is involved in the death of a civilian, I fully support appointing the Attorney General to act as an independent special prosecutor, but I’ve taken on powerful interests my entire career, and I won’t be afraid to stand up, do my job, and hold officers accountable as District Attorney. My goal is to hold the police to a higher standard of conduct, which means I’ll play an extremely active role in prosecuting officers for lying, committing perjury, and other forms of misconduct.”
City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest): “I would support establishing a special prosecutor for police misconduct, similar to the special prosecutor role given to the attorney general where an unarmed individual is killed by the police, who would investigate and prosecute all instances of police dishonesty and excessive force.”
Antonya Jeffrey, a spokeswoman for Mina Malik, a former prosecutor and the former director of the CCRB, had a different response for what her boss would do.
“As District Attorney, Mina won’t recuse herself from police misconduct cases unless it is a case that she dealt with as Executive Director of the CCRB. For example, if a criminal case against Daniel Pantaleo’s case were in Queens, as District Attorney, Malik would recuse herself because while she was Executive Director of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the agency substantiated the case and Mina agreed that officer Pantaleo applied a choke-hold to Eric Garner that caused his death.”
Public Defender Tiffany Cabán, Former Judge Greg Lasak, and former prosecutors Betty Lugo and José Nieves did not comment.
The primary for the District Attorney race is June 25.