An NYPD spokesperson says the department will immediately begin the disciplinary process against two NYPD members in connection with the Eric Garner Case.
The spokesperson says the process will begin immediately against Officer Daniel Pantaleo and Sergeant Kitty Adonis.
All along, the city has said it was waiting on federal authorities to act before the NYPD could take disciplinary action. The NYPD now says it was informed by the Justice Department on Wednesday that it had no objection to the city moving forward.
By beginning the process immediately, the NYPD is pushing up the timetable it had laid out earlier this week, when it said it would take action in September if federal authorities had not wrapped up their own investigation by then.
Pantaleo, who placed Garner in the deadly chokehold, will be prosecuted by the police watchdog group the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which said Thursday it has already begun filing charges. An NYPD official will lead the case against Adonis, a supervisor who was one of the first people at the scene.
In response to the news, the police union, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association said it hoped the outcome has not already been decided, saying in a statement, "P.O. Pantaleo is entitled to a complete and impartial review of the facts. We are confident that he will be vindicated by such a review, unless the Mayor and the NYPD leadership have already decided to prioritize politics over fairness."
Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, meanwhile, issued a scathing statement of her own, which reads, in part, "The de Blasio administration should never have waited for 4 years or until September because the idea that NYPD couldn’t have acted before DOJ has always been a lie."
Carr called it unacceptable that more officers are not facing discipline and called for the city to release the names of all the officers involved.
Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the case at an unrelated event Thursday morning, pointing the blame for all this delay on the Justice Department.
"We will now proceed with the discplinary actions immediately. There's no reason to wait anymore," he said. "But I think that this is causing me, at least, and I'm going to have this conversation with the law department and NYPD to rethink our approach going forward. Every New Yorker is relieved that we can finally get some closure here. I mean, this is a horrible tragedy that everyone felt in the city, and no one felt it more than the Garner family, and this has not been speedy justice."
The mayor did not weigh in on what punishment the two officers should face.
The 43-year-old Garner, who was accused of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, was stopped by police on Staten Island on July 17, 2014 and refused to be handcuffed.
Pantaleo is seen on a widely watched cellphone video putting Garner in an apparent chokehold, which is banned under NYPD policy.
Garner is heard gasping "I can't breathe" on the video. He was pronounced dead at a hospital. The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide that was caused, in part, by the chokehold.
In 2014, the Staten Island district attorney convened a grand jury panel and heard evidence on the case, but the grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo or the other officers.
Garner's family received $5.9 million from the city in 2015 to settle a wrongful death claim.
If the officers are found guilty, they could face a range of discipline up to and including being suspended or fired.