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Eric Garner death: Officer’s disciplinary hearing begins

I CAN'T BREATHE: Eric Garner's last words became a rallying cry at Black Lives Matter protests

THE OFFICER who put Eric Garner in what is alleged to be an illegal chokehold shortly before his death is the subject of a long-awaited disciplinary hearing.

Daniel Pantaleo’s actions are being investigated in a New York courtroom five years after he was involved in the arrest that resulted in Garner’s death. NYPD officers had confronted Garner over selling loose cigarettes.

Garner died after Pantaleo put him in a chokehold during an arrest in July 2014. During the interaction with the police, the father-of-six pleaded with officers numerous times, telling them he could not breathe.

Pantaleo’s lawyer, Stuart London, described his client, who has been on desk duty since Garner’s death, as a “scapegoat” for what happened, The Associated Press reported.

Pantaleo denies doing anything wrong.

The Civilian Complaint Review Board, the US’ largest independent police watchdog agency, has been tasked with proving that Pantaleo contravened departmental regulations and that his actions Pantaleo is not facing criminal charges.

After footage of Garner's tragic arrest went viral, his last words, “I can’t breathe”, were adopted by Black Lives Matter activists in protests organised against police brutality in the aftermath of his death.

Ramsey Orta, the man who filmed the footage that captures the moments directly before Garner is wrestled to the ground by several officers, placed in the illegal chokehold, has his head pressed against the ground and then lies motionless on the ground outside a shop, testified in court on Monday.

Orta who received a prison sentence for drugs and weapons offences after he shared the footage, gave his testimony from prison.

Pantaleo could face being fired from the NYPD if he is found guilty of wrongdoing.

A number of high profile figures have spoken out about the hearing and expressed hopes that it brings Garner's family some resolution. But reliving his final moments and the circumstances of his death is proving emotionally painful for his loved ones.

Civil rights activist Rev Al Sharpton, who attended the hearing on Monday, held the hand of Gwen Carr, Garner’s mother, outside the courtroom after she had to leave as the video showing her son’s final moments was shared with the court.

Sharpton said Carr “couldn’t bare” to be in court at the time.

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