The text was revealed for the first time Thursday at a disciplinary hearing for Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who grabbed Garner in a chokehold after confronting him for selling untaxed cigarettes. Garner pleaded “I can’t breathe” 11 times during the struggle, captured on a bystander’s cellphone video, before he had an asthma attack and died.
Garner was “most likely DOA” Sgt. Dhanan Saminath wrote in a text to his boss, Lt. Christopher Bannon, The New York Times reported.
“Not a big deal,” Bannon wrote back. “We were effecting a lawful arrest.”
Gasps were heard in the courtroom after the texts were read, according to the paper.
Pantaleo was not charged with any crime in Garner’s death, which helped ignite the Black Lives Matter movement. Now, nearly five years later, he faces possible termination for recklessly using a chokehold.
Though the officer hasn’t been charged with a crime, Ramsey Orta, who took the cellphone video, was sentenced to four years in prison in 2016 for drug and gun offenses.
Orta maintained that he was the target of police harassment for his role in spotlighting Garner’s death.