17/05/2019 10:32 PM IST

After Eric Garner’s Chokehold Death NYPD Commander Texted It Was ‘Not A Big Deal’

A lieutenant apparently tried to reassure officers after the 2014 chokehold death of Garner. “We were effecting a lawful arrest.”

NYPD commander shrugged off the death of Eric Garner, who repeatedly said “I can’t breathe” during a 2014 struggle with an officer, as “not a big deal” in a text message to the cop’s sergeant.

The text was revealed for the first time Thursday at a disciplinary hearing for Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who grabbed Garner in a chokehold after confronting him for selling untaxed cigarettes. Garner pleaded “I can’t breathe” 11 times during the struggle, captured on a bystander’s cellphone video, before he had an asthma attack and died. 

Garner was “most likely DOA” Sgt. Dhanan Saminath wrote in a text to his boss, Lt. Christopher Bannon, The New York Times reported. 

“Not a big deal,” Bannon wrote back. “We were effecting a lawful arrest.”

Gasps were heard in the courtroom after the texts were read, according to the paper.

Pantaleo was not charged with any crime in Garner’s death, which helped ignite the Black Lives Matter movement. Now, nearly five years later, he faces possible termination for recklessly using a chokehold.

On May 16, 2019, dozens of protesters gathered at the New York City Police Headquarters in downtown Manhattan, where the administrative hearing of NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo entered its fourth day.

Though the officer hasn’t been charged with a crime, Ramsey Orta, who took the cellphone video, was sentenced to four years in prison in 2016 for drug and gun offenses.

Orta maintained that he was the target of police harassment for his role in spotlighting Garner’s death.