Surprising testimony in the disciplinary trial of NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo: his partner, Officer Justin D'Amico, said he thought Eric Garner was faking unconsciousness after Pantaleo allegedly placed Garner in a banned chokehold, even though Garner repeatedly said, "I can't breathe."
"You believed he was playing possum?" the officer was asked.
"Yes," he responded.
The questioning by a Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) lawyer came on Day 5 of the NYPD trial to determine if Pantaleo should be fired.
The head of the police union defended the officer's testimony.
"At times, folks who don't want to be arrested, when they stop resisting, sometimes they go limp or stay stiff," Pat Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association, said at a news conference outside Police Headquarters.
The defense denies Pantaleo used a chokehold while arresting Garner on a Staten Island street in 2014 for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. Garner never regained consciousness, and died.
D'Amico testified he was the one who saw Garner selling loosies and that Garner was irate as police officers approached. He said he spoke with Garner for almost 10 minutes.
"I was just trying to explain to him the reason why I was stopping him," the officer testified. "I just tried to calm him down to talk to him."
"Unfortunately, Mr. Garner would not have that and chose to resist arrest," Lynch said.
It was revealed during testimony that D'Amico's arrest complaint accused Garner of felony cigarette sales, which would have meant Garner possessed at least 10,000 cigarettes. But D'Amico acknowledged he found only five packs on Garner.
After the officer wrapped up his testimony, the defense team dropped a scheduling bombshell on the NYPD judge, saying their next witness wouldn't be available for another two weeks.
Defense Attorney Stuart London said his medical expert from St. Louis can't come to New York right now because of his schedule.
"Stu London has more trickery up his sleeve," Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, said at a news conference with supporters outside Police Headquarters. "But, you know what? We are still here. We are going to be here."
When the trial resumes, the medical expert and the person who trained Pantaleo about the use of force are scheduled to testify. It's unclear if Pantaleo will take the stand.
"I don't want to hear from him if I'm going to hear what I'm hearing in the courts now," Carr said. "It is going to be more lies."
The trial is set to resume June 5.