New York police weigh officer's conduct in 2014 'I can't breathe' death

A demonstrator holds a sign inside the Federal Courthouse during a protest in Oakland

A demonstrator holds a sign inside the Federal Courthouse during a protest in Oakland

The video shows Pantaleo apparently holding his forearm against Garner's throat for a little more than 15 seconds, at one point clasping both his hands to maintain his hold.

Ramsey Orta, a friend of Garner's who shot the video of the confrontation, was the first witness to testify, appearing via video from a state prison where he's serving a four-year sentence for gun and drug possession.

The Justice Department declined to pursue a federal civil rights case against Pantaleo, who has been relegated to desk duty these last several years.

The police department's disciplinary process plays out like a trial before an administrative judge, the NYPD's deputy commissioner for trials, but the goal is to determine whether Pantaleo violated department rules.

If Pantaleo is found guilty of violating department rules, he faces penalties ranging from the loss of vacation days to termination.

Pantaleo faces excessive force charges for allegedly using a banned chokehold against Eric Garner, who died in 2014 in Tompkinsville after the officer used put him in a chokehold while arresting him. Officer Daniel Pantaleo's trial is scheduled to start Monday at police headquarters.

He went on, "I feel - I know the Garner family and they have gone through so much and they're still waiting for an answer from the Justice Department but we finally got to the point of saying to the Justice Department, the NYPD is going to go ahead with its disciplinary process".

A ruling last week requires that the police watchdog agency bringing the case prove not only that Pantaleo violated department rules, but also that his actions fit the criteria for criminal charges.

Eric Garner's sister left a New York City courtroom wailing as a video was played showing the 2014 arrest that led to his death.

During cross-examination, Orta said Pantaleo's arm wasn't around Garner's neck when he uttered, "I can't breathe".

Gwen Carr, pictured, accused of officers of murdering her son, right.

Although New York City's chief medical examiner ruled that Garner was killed in part by a chokehold compressing his neck, Pantaleo's lawyer and his union have said it was not a chokehold as defined by the police department, which has long banned the maneuver.

Protesters demanding Pantaleo be fired blocked Manhattan's busy FDR Drive Monday morning, causing major backups during the morning rush hour, reports PIX11-TV.

The case will be closely watched by civil rights activists who say too few police officers face consequences for using deadly force and those, including New York City's powerful police officers' union, who defend officers for doing a risky job.

"There are a lot of mixed emotions", Ellisha Garner said afterward. The department made a decision to move forward with the discipline case previous year.

The police department's internal affairs bureau determined that Pantaleo used a chokehold and referred the finding in January 2015 to the department's advocate's office, an investigator testified during the hearing.

Pantaleo's lawyer tried poking more holes in Orta's credibility by pointing to his criminal record and what Orta said was $10,000 to $15,000 United States he's earned in royalties on the video.

"Does the oath mean anything to you?"

"It's fair to say your cellphone video is not lying under oath", O'Hare added.