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Police Union Head Says Officer Panteleo 'Distraught' Over Eric Garner Death

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As the investigation into the death of Eric Garner continues, we're hearing from the police union head about how the officer at the center of the controversy is reacting. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.

NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo is the one seen on video placing Eric Garner in a choke hold.

Until now, we hadn't heard much about how he's reacted to the firestorm surrounding Garner's death.

In a radio appearance Sunday, though, police union President Pat Lynch said he's had an opportunity to speak with Pantaleo:

Lynch:"He's distraught over it. No one wants to have to deal with the fact that someone died because of something they had to do. It's a terrible loss."

Police were arresting Garner on Staten Island for selling loose cigarettes.

Lynch: "We don't want to go on that corner and deal with someone selling loosies. They community complained, the department sends us there and then we have to deal with the issue."

On Friday, the Medical Examiner ruled Garner died as a result of a choke hold, but also cited other factors including asthma and high blood pressure.

Lynch has said that Garner might still be alive if he hadn't resisted arrest.

Meanwhile many of the congregants at the church in Brooklyn where Garner's funeral was held hailed the ME's report as a first step on the road to justice.

"The truth is slowly being revealed and I think it's a push forward in resolving his death and getting to the bottom of it," one attendee said.

"I just want justice to be prevailed in reference to the family as well as to the person that did it and we can have peace," another said.

As they went into their Sunday service, many here say the officer responsible needs to be punished.

People who know the Garner family say the video speaks for itself.

"We know that he said 11 times that he couldn't breathe, so we know, everybody knows—its clear cut that they choked him," a third congregant said.

"Everybody can see the arm on the TV and what else can you say? The arm is there and if died from a choke, you can just say he died from that arm that was up on his neck," another person said.

The Staten Island District Attorney is leading the investigation and could decide what happens next to Pantaleo.

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