Choke-Hold Cop In Eric Garner Death Previously Sued 3 Times For Misconduct

Contributing to the death of Eric Garner by choke-hold is not the first misconduct charge New York City cop Daniel Pantaleo has faced.

Despite hearing testimony from a medical examiner that the choke-hold the cop had on Eric Garner during an arrest attempt contributed to his death -- as well as seeing a cellphone video showing Garner repeatedly saying he couldn't breathe -- a grand jury ruled earlier this week not to indict Pantaleo.

The jury's decision sparked protests nationwide, reports the Inquistr, with millions of people wondering how the jurors could decide in the cop's favor after such evidence had been presented against him.

On Thursday, USA Today outlined three prior civil cases in which 29-year-old Panteleo, along with other police officers, were sued for allegedly violating the constitutional rights of others they had arrested.

In 2013, a federal court lawsuit against Pantaleo alleged that he and at least four other cops subjected Darren Collins and Tommy Rice to "humiliating and unlawful strip searches in public view" while searching them for illegal drugs during an arrest on Staten Island in March 2012.

The suit alleged that the cops "pulled down the plaintiffs' pants and underwear, and touched and searched their genital areas, or stood by while this was done in their presence."

Pantaleo and three other cops were accused of repeating the strip searches after taking the suspect to the 120th police precinct.

The charges against Collins and Rice, who claimed to be innocent, were dismissed and sealed. The city settled the lawsuit earlier this year, paying the two men $30,000, according to the Staten Island Advance.

Pantaleo was also accused of misconduct in the February 2012 arrest of Rylawn Walker. Walker's suit alleged Pantaleo and other cops falsely arrested him for marijuana possession. The lawsuit claims that he was "committing no crime at the time and was not acting in a suspicious manner."

The charges against Walker were dismissed and sealed, but attorneys for the city of New York deny the allegations. His case is still pending.

Another Staten Island man, Kenneth Collins, filed a lawsuit in November 2014 claiming that Pantaleo and other officers violated his rights during a February 2012 drug possession arrest. Collins' suit claims that he was falsely arrested and "was subjected to a degrading search of his private parts and genitals by the defendants."

Charges against Collins' were also dismissed and sealed the day after his arrest, according to court records, and city attorneys have not yet responded to the charges.

Although the cop was cleared by the grand jury, NYPD has announced that it will be conducting an internal probe into the incident. Pantaleo, who is currently on administrative duty, may still face departmental disciplinary charges for violating a department rule prohibiting choke-holds and for using excessive force.

Attorney Eric Holder has also announced that federal prosecutors will be conducting an investigation into the cop's role in Garner's death.

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