The Civilian Complaint Review Board has confirmed that the leaked disciplinary records of the police officer who put a Staten Island man in a fatal chokehold were authentic. The records showed that Officer Daniel Pantaleo had seven pending complaints against him before his fatal arrest of Eric Garner in July 2014.
Garner, who was approached by officers who said he was selling loose cigarettes, was unarmed. His death, caught on video, captured him telling officers repeatedly, "I can't breathe," and contributed to national outrage about authorities' aggressive tactics toward African-Americans.
Pantaleo has been on desk duty since Garner's death. While a grand jury did not indict him, the federal Department of Justice is investigating the fatal chokehold. In 2015, a judge ruled that the city must release his records, but the city then changed its approach on disclosing officers' disciplinary history.
After an investigation into the leak, the CCRB says the employee who leaked the documents has resigned. Unnamed sources told the Daily News that the employee was a "junior staff person" who had worked as an investigator at the CCRB for under a year, and was not involved in any of the complaints against Pantaleo.
A statement from the board said, "After a swift and thorough internal investigation, the Civilian Complaint Review Board identified the employee who was the source of the leak. As of today, that individual no longer works at CCRB."
The documents, which were obtained by ThinkProgress, indicate that Pantaleo was accused of misconduct a total of 14 times, and apparently four incidents—two vehicle stop and searches and two stop-and-frisks—were substantiated.
The other complaints were not substantiated by the CCRB, but Legal Aid attorney, Cynthia Conti-Cook, told us earlier this week that, based on her experience as a civil rights litigator, "unsubstantiated is not exonerated, it's 'inconclusive.' The finding isn't enough to trigger discipline but it certainly suggests allegations may have merit."
Police officers' union head Patrick Lynch referred to the CCRB employee's resignation as a "positive first step... The release of a police officer’s confidential personnel records is still a crime that should be thoroughly investigated and, if necessary, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
Conti-Cook, however, told the NY Times, "They’re going to fire a C.C.R.B. leaker before they will fire a man who killed an unarmed man on duty as a police officer. It’s pretty troubling."