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Dead Man Walking

June 10, 2019

Consider this: What if, as Daniel Pantaleo’s lawyer claimed last week, Eric Garner died not from the NYPD cop’s supposed chokehold but from poor health — specifically obesity. Garner weighed nearly 400 pounds.

Michael Graham, the St. Louis medical examiner, testified last week for Pantaleo in his departmental trial, and refuted claims by NYC’s medical examiner’s office which concluded that Garner had died from an NYPD-banned chokehold. Instead, Graham maintained that Garner died from heart problems “exacerbated by his interaction with law enforcement.” Garner had resisted as Pantaleo attempted to arrest him for selling “loosie” cigarettes in Staten Island in July 2014.

Click here to read what the police brass say about NYPD ConfidentialThe Police Academy instructor who conducted Pantaleo’s tactical training also testified for Pantaleo. He said Pantaleo used a “seatbelt takedown” maneuver — not a chokehold — that was approved by the NYPD. The instructor refuted earlier testimony of prosecution witness Insp. Richard Dee who said Pantaleo had not been trained to use a seatbelt hold and that the video evidence showed that the manner in which Pantaleo grabbed Garner met “the definition of a chokehold.”

As far as expert testimony goes, that’s a wash. Were this a criminal trial, the conflicting testimony might have created reasonable doubt, which could mean Pantaleo’s acquittal. But this is no criminal trial. It is a department trial, where the criteria for conviction or acquittal is “the preponderance of the evidence.”

That means that the department — via trial judge Rosemarie Maldonado and NYPD Commissioner Jim O’Neill, who has the final say — will make their determination based on whatever evidence they choose to accept or ignore. Maldonado’s decision is expected in a few weeks.

Meanwhile, Pantaleo is a dead man walking. That’s because a cultural revolution with a leftward tilt is afoot in New York City, where rules and values of the past have been upended.

Consider this: Twenty-five years ago, when the number of annual homicides in NYC topped 2,000, former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton was considered a hero after he instituted get-tough policing, known as “zero tolerance.” Bratton’s approach began a 25-year crime decline that has driven down NYC’s annual homicide numbers to under 300 in 2018. But in the zeitgeist of today, Bratton is now condemned by some as “racist” for policing that led thousands of offenders to prison — most of them black and Hispanic.

Click here to read the New York Times profile of Leonard LevittOr consider this: In Queens, we are witnessing a District Attorney’s race in which two leading candidates have never prosecuted a case. Melinda Katz is the Queens borough president. Her robocalls to voters are about … abortion.

Tiffany Cabán is a 31-year-old former public defender, endorsed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Cabán has promised to end cash bail, stop criminalizing poverty, and roll back mass incarceration and the war on drugs.

“I’m a queer Latina from a working-class family,” is how she describes herself. “People like us are exactly who the system is trying to keep down.” Greg Lasak, the sole candidate who was both a prosecutor and a judge, is trailing.

Finally, consider this: We have a mayor who is a true ideologue of the left. He remains silent when his schools chancellor Richard Carranza says he wants to dismantle what he calls “white supremacy culture.”

Carranza is the same character who, referring to the large number of Asian-American students who attend the city's elite high schools, made the borderline racist remark: “I don’t buy into the narrative that any one ethnic group owns admissions” to these elite schools. The mayor has also remained silent about that.

Click here to read the Washington Post article on NYPD ConfidentialWe come now to Commissioner Jim O’Neill, who is about as decent a guy as you are likely to find. When he was appointed in 2016, he was portrayed as a “cop’s cop.” Since then, he has become the mayor’s cop, whether supporting the mayor’s ineffectual pet project, known as neighborhood policing, or following the mayor’s lead and denouncing Sgt. Hugh Barry for fatally shooting an emotionally disturbed woman, who he believed was about to swing a baseball bat at his head.

Is there any doubt that the mayor wants Pantaleo fired? Is there any doubt but that O’Neill will comply?

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