NEW YORK (Reuters) - The white New York City police officer who put unarmed black Staten Island resident Eric Garner in a chokehold moments before his death has been accused by other black men of violating their civil rights while he was on patrol.
A grand jury’s decision on Wednesday not to indict officer Daniel Pantaleo for his role in the videotaped confrontation that left 43-year-old Garner dead has sparked days of protests by groups claiming U.S. law enforcement unfairly targets African-Americans and other minorities.
Court filings obtained by Reuters on Friday show that four black men have sued Pantaleo over two separate 2012 incidents over claims of being stopped, strip-searched and arrested without cause.
Pantaleo’s attorney and New York City’s legal department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In June 2013, Darren Collins, 46, and Tommy Rice, 42, filed a federal lawsuit against Pantaleo and a group of other New York police officers.
Collins and Rice claimed the officers stopped them as they drove on a Staten Island road. The men were ordered out of the car and handcuffed, despite a lack of reason to believe they had committed a crime, the lawsuit claimed.
Pantaleo and the other officers also strip searched the men in public while they were handcuffed, the lawsuit claimed.
It also claimed that Pantaleo provided false evidence against the men and that he and the other officers arrested the men to meet quotas and collect overtime, among other reasons.
Charges against Collins and Rice were later dismissed and sealed in Richmond County Criminal Court.
The city settled the lawsuit in January, according to court filings. The terms were not disclosed.
In a separate case, Rylawn Walker and Kenneth Smith filed lawsuits in February and November against Pantaleo and other officers, claiming they were stopped without cause while walking together in Staten Island, illegally strip searched and arrested on false marijuana charges.
Walker was 19 at the time of the February 2012 incident, while Smith was 22.
The city has moved to dismiss most of the claims asserted by Rylawn Walker and has not yet responded to Smith’s complaint.
Editing by Frank McGurty and Jonathan Oatis
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