If he could do it all over again, Mayor de Blasio says he would not have waited for the federal government to take disciplinary action against Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who placed Eric Garner in a fatal choke hold more five years ago.
"I always believed, no matter how strange the politics were in our country, that the Justice Department would keep to that standard. They failed to act in any way for five years. And what I regret was believing that the old rules still applied," de Blasio said.
But the mayor's response is ringing hollow to members of the Garner family who for years have asked him to fire Pantaleo from the force.
De Blasio says he is not legally allowed to fire Pantaleo. He refused to say on Wednesday if he believes the officer should be removed from the department.
"There will be a decision next month. That will be the end of the process. So I’m not issuing an opinion because I respect that this process has to playout," de Blasio said.
This week, Department of Justice officials declined to seek a civil rights indictment against Pantaleo, citing a lack of evidence and too high a bar for the government to prove Pantaleo willfully used excessive force in violation of Garner's civil rights.
There is some precedent for the federal government charging a New York Police officer with use of deadly force. In 1998, Officer Francis Livoti was convicted of civil rights violations in the choking death of Anthony Baez.
Activists have scheduled 11 days of demonstrations to protest the decision, one day for every Garner said "I can’t breathe" as he laid on the ground dying. The words have become a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement across the nation.
Asked about the city's handling of the case, Governor Cuomo said it had been a mistake to trust President Donald Trump's Department of Justice to do its job.
"Anyone who believed that President Trump and his hand-picked Attorney General Bill Barr were going to be the source of probative evidence and truth and justice is delusional," Cuomo said.
De Blasio said he will not be attending any of the events to mark the anniversary of Eric Garner's death.
He is expected to remain in the city throughout the weekend.