Chokehold Cop Catches Another Break in Court

     MANHATTAN (CN) – A day after New York City paid $5.9 million to Eric Garner’s grieving family, the NYPD officer who put Garner in a fatal chokehold moved one step closer to having another civil rights case against him thrown out.
     At least four black men from Staten Island had sued Daniel Pantaleo for arrests that took place years before the officer’s fatal chokehold on Eric Garner. A grand jury’s refusal to indict him late last year sparked national protests and coversations about race and police brutality.
     Far fewer words have been written about Rylawn Walker, who was 19 years old when he encountered Pantaleo near his house on Feb. 16, 2012.
     That day, Pantaleo and several other officers arrested Walker and 22-year-old Kenneth Smith for marijuana possession. Both men say that they were doing nothing wrong and that they didn’t have any drugs.
     In separate lawsuits, they accuse the officers of performing a “degrading search of [their] private parts and genitals” during the more than 30 hours of lockup at the 120th Precinct, and then lying about the reasons for their arrest on official forms.
     A New York City judge tossed charges against Walker and Smith the next day.
     Darren Collins and Tommy Rice, two other black men from Staten Island, said that Pantaleo and others subjected them to “humiliating and unlawful strip searches in public view” a little more than a month later on the morning of March 22, 2012.
     Collins and Rice claim that at roughly 10 a.m. the officers pulled them over without probable cause.
     They said in their lawsuit that either Pantaleo or his colleague “pulled down [their] pants and underwear and touched and searched their genital areas” in broad daylight, before performing another of these searches at the precinct.
     Collins and Rice accused Pantaleo of filing “baseless” and “malicious” charges that were ultimately dismissed.
     All four of the men claimed that Pantaleo arrested them to collect overtime and meet quotas.
     New York City settled Collins and Rice’s lawsuit under undisclosed terms in early 2014.
     Walker and Smith did not bring their lawsuits until this past fall, roughy four month’s after Garner’s death.
     On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos threw out several of the claims in Walker’s case, including municipal liability against the city.
     “While [Walker] attempts to show a widespread policy or pattern of abuse, he has failed to allege sufficient facts to establish that the city has adopted such an abusive policy towards people of color,” the opinion stated.
     The city did not move to dismiss Walker’s claims of false arrest, unlawful imprisonment, failure to intervene, and supervisory liability.
     Ramos ordered the parties to prepare a scheduling order for discovery by July 21.
     The judge’s decision came one day after New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer announced a $5.9 million settlement with the Garner family while acknowledging the “extraordinary impact his passing has had on our city and our nation.”
     “It forced us to examine the state of race relations, and the relationship between our police force and the people they serve,” he said.
     At a Tuesday press conference on the settlement, Garner’s family renewed their call for the Justice Department to prosecute Pantaleo, who still has a desk job with the NYPD.
     NPR reported that the criminal inquiry against him is ongoing.
     Attorneys for Walker did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
     In a statement to Courthouse News, a representative for the New York City Law Department said the city was “pleased that the court dismissed several of the claims.”

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