NYPD tells DOJ it will proceed with disciplinary proceedings in Eric Garner death

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Tuesday marks four years since Eric Garner's death at the hands of the NYPD, and on Monday, the NYPD sent a letter informing the Justice Department it will move forward with internal disciplinary hearings for the officers involved by August 31 if the federal government declines to announce whether it intends to file civil rights charges.

"It has become clear that a definite date by which time a final decision by the US DOJ will be rendered in this matter cannot be predicted," the letter reads.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner Larry Byrne noted the anniversary in pointing out that the department has deferred taking disciplinary action as it awaits the DOJ's decision on civil rights charges.

"Members of the public in general and the Garner family, in particular, have grown impatient with the fact that NYPD has not proceeded with our disciplinary proceedings, and they have difficulty comprehending a decision to defer to a federal criminal investigation that seems to have no end in sight," the letter reads. "The NYPD has come to the conclusion that given the extraordinary passage of time since the incident without a final decision on the U.S. DOJ's criminal investigation, any further delay in moving ahead with our own disciplinary proceedings can no longer be justified."

Garner's videotaped chokehold became a rallying cry for protests over police killings of black men. It shows Officer Daniel Pantaleo taking Garner down and him gasping, "I can't breathe."

"The NYPD will look at all of the different officers involved, determine which are worthy of a disciplinary process," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Rev. Al Sharpton, speaking on behalf of the Garner family, applauded Monday's NYPD letter, but also called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to act.

"It is a move in the right direction, but it must move forward," Sharpton said. "The attorney general should still move forward on federal action."
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Rev. Al Sharpton responds to NYPD letter to Justice Department

"We want to see this done," Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, said. "We want justice."

A DOJ spokesman issued the following response: "As officials at the Department of Justice informed Mr. Byrne this spring, the New York Police Department may move forward with its disciplinary proceedings. Mr. Byrne's letter does not have any bearing on the decision-making timeline at the Justice Department, and the Department cannot comment further at this time."

In response to the letter, PBA President Pat Lynch released the following statement:

"We agree that the Justice Department's leadership should move to close Police Officer Pantaleo's case and put an end to what has been a highly irregular fishing expedition by those seeking an indictment at all cost. However, that should not trigger a race by the NYPD to reach a pre-determined outcome in its own disciplinary processes. Police Officer Pantaleo is entitled to due process and an impartial consideration of the facts. If that is allowed to occur, we are confident that he will be vindicated and will finally be able to move forward."

Fred Davie, Chair of the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, released the following statement:

"The CCRB's Administrative Prosecution Unit stands ready to prosecute Officer Pantaleo as it does in cases in which the Board substantiates misconduct against a member of the NYPD and recommends Charges and Specifications."

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