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Precinct Where Eric Garner Died Ranks High in Police Misconduct

By Nicholas Rizzi | July 23, 2014 3:30pm
 Mourners set up a makeshift memorial where Eric Garner died while police were arresting him.
Mourners set up a makeshift memorial where Eric Garner died while police were arresting him.
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DNAinfo/Nicholas Rizzi

ST. GEORGE — The Staten Island precinct where Eric Garner died after being choked by a police officer has one of the highest rates of police misconduct in the city, according to government watchdog statistics.

Staten Island's 120 Precinct, where the officers who arrested Garner, 43, were assigned, ranks 10th among the city's 78 precincts in substantiated complaints, according to the Civilian Complaint Review Board's bi-annual reports.

The 120, which serves a population of 120,511 people, had 23 substantiated complaints against officers assigned to it in the five year period counted in the CCRB's report, beating out high-crime neighborhoods like the 25th Precinct in East Harlem, with 13 complaints, and the 75th Precinct in Brooklyn, with 19.

The agency could not give exact numbers on the type of complaints against 120 Precinct officers, though they include excessive use of physical force and abuse allegations like unwarranted stops and searches of cars, according to the CCRB's monthly reports from 2011 to 2013.

None of the substantiated complaints included instances of chokeholds and the CCRB couldn't provide data for the 120's unsubstantiated claims.  

The independent oversight authority, which is mandated to investigate allegations of police misconduct ranging from excessive force, abuse of authority and offensive language, declined to comment for this story.

Several officers from the precinct came under fire last week when a video obtained by the Daily News showed the asthmatic Garner being put in an apparent chokehold and wrestled to the ground while being arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes Thursday. 

He told arresting officers "I can't breathe" at least 11 times during the video and was eventually pronounced dead at Richmond University Medical Center.

Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who has been sued two previous times for civil rights offenses, was stripped of his gun and badge following the arrest, the NYPD said. Another officer was put on desk duty during an investigation into the incident.

The CCRB announced over the weekend they will review the 1,022 complaints of chokehold use they received from 2009 to 2013 across the city. In the five-year period, only nine were substantiated, mostly in Brooklyn and the Bronx, the New York Times reported.

In the majority of the cases, the CCRB recommended the officers face an administrative trial, the strongest form of punishment, but in all but one they were not disciplined or given the lightest possible sanction by the NYPD, the Times said.

Aside from CCRB complaints, the 120 Precinct also led the borough in stop-and-frisks in 2011, according to an NYPD report released last year. The 120 precinct had 16,490 stop-and-frisks in 2011, more than the 123 and the 122 precincts combined.

The precinct is being included in a citywide pilot program that will outfit officers with video cameras to provide an objective take during stops.