De Blasio won’t say if Daniel Pantaleo, cop in Eric Garner’s death, should be fired

Mayor de Blasio refused to say Wednesday whether Officer Daniel Pantaleo should be fired for the death of Eric Garner — just a day after the feds declined to file civil rights charges against him.

De Blasio claimed Pantaleo’s fate is in the hands of Police Commissioner James O’Neill.

Hizzoner spent much of a 40-minute interview with Hot 97 radio’s “Ebro in the Morning” trying to fend off criticism from host Ebro Darden over both the city and federal government’s handling of the Garner case.

Attorney General William Barr decided not to pursue federal civil rights charges against Pantaleo because of “insufficient evidence” – including that a probe found Garner was not in a chokehold when he gasped “I can’t breathe” 11 times before falling unconscious.

When Darden asked de Blasio what he was “going to do” about Pantaleo, de Blasio claimed his hands were tied and would not interfere with the NYPD’s disciplinary proceeding. Then de Blasio ripped the US Justice Department for allowing the five-year statute of limitations to bring charges to expire after a Staten Island grand jury declined to prosecute Pantaleo in 2014.

“We thought the Justice Department — as it did for decades — was going to be the arbiter,” de Blasio said. “What we found out yesterday was something we literally have never seen in decades — that they did not literally take any responsibility…”

“That is why we announced yesterday that we are no longer going to in any way [defer] to the Justice Department in making decisions about [NYPD] departmental charges,” he added.

Darden, who usually offers de Blasio a friendly platform to speak on his show, wasn’t buying the answer.

“I disagree,” he shot back. “I believe the No. 1 way you can honor Eric Garner is by firing Pantaleo.”

De Blasio, however, said there is a “due process” and that O’Neill under state law must decide whether or not Pantaleo loses his badge.

O’Neill is waiting for a police administrative judge who oversaw a disciplinary hearing in the case to make a recommendation before making his decision.

The mayor said he expects the matter to be resolved by O’Neill sometime next month.

“I am not pre-judging, and I am not predicting,” said de Blasio.

Referring to O’Neill he said, “This is a guy who created neighborhood policing and is deeply trying to achieve a city where there is entirely a different relationship between police and community.

“But it is still a trial with facts, and in the end, he’s got to make that decision off what the judge gives him.”

O’Neill has declined to say whether he’ll follow Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado’s recommendation.

De Blasio, at a press conference later in the morning in Brooklyn, repeated his stance that he will defer the police commissioner regarding Pantaleo.

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