A commanding officer on Staten Island sent a text that appeared to shrug off news Eric Garner may have died while being arrested by two of his cops.
The revelation came at the NYPD disciplinary trial of one of those officers, Daniel Pantaleo, and Garner’s family and supporters were immediately outraged.
When a sergeant texted Lieutenant Christopher Bannon that Garner was unconscious Bannon texted back, "Not a big deal, we were effecting a lawful arrest."
"[It was] disheartening for me to sit in the courtrooms and listen to these officers. The things they say, and they say it without any remorse," Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, said.
Testifying Thursday, Lieutenant Bannon said that when he sent the text he was only trying to calm down officers who were in a bad situation.
Bannon was the first defense witness in the trial, which will determine whether Pantaleo placed Garner in a banned chokehold and should be fired for it.
His testimony established why Pantaleo was there in the first place.
Bannon said that during a meeting with superiors at police headquarters he was shown images of people allegedly selling cigarettes illegally on Bay Street, and that they were told to clean up the area.
"Loosies and other violations were brought to the police department’s attention by the community council in the neighborhood,” said Pat Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association. “And the order to go out to enforce those laws came from this building. But nonetheless Officer Pantaleo is the one that is on trial."
Bannon said that on July 17, 2014, he saw suspicious activity on Bay Street and ordered Sergeant Dhanan Saminath to send in cops, setting in motion the events that led to Garner's death hours later.
The two uniformed officers who helped Pantaleo to arrest Garner, Mark Ramos and Craig Furlani, also testified. This is the first time their identities have been made public.
They said they heard Garner say he couldn't breathe, but that he was a big man who was resisting arrest as they tried to handcuff him. They also said they did not see how Pantaleo was holding Garner during the struggle.
The trial will resume on Tuesday. Pantaleo's partner from that fateful day is scheduled to testify. There's a possibility Pantaleo could take the stand next week as well.