Aug. 29 (UPI) -- The New York Police Department's largest union has issued a vote of no confidence for city Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O'Neill, over the firing of an officer involved in the controversial death of Eric Garner five years ago.
O'Neill fired Pantaleo this month for using a prohibited chokehold on Garner during a 2014 arrest. Garner suffocated and his death evolved into a rallying cry for demonstrators opposed to police brutality.
"For years, Mayor de Blasio has demonized police officers and undermined our efforts to protect our city," union leader Patrick Lynch said in a statement. "For years, Commissioner O'Neill has cravenly acquiesced to the Mayor and his anti-cop allies. Neither can hope to regain the trust or confidence of New York City police officers. They must resign or be fired."
A union resolution details difficulties it says both O'Neill and de Blasio inflicted on the department. Lynch also criticized O'Neill for depriving Pantaleo of his livelihood and failing to address mental health and quality of life concerns from the NYPD.
"Commissioner O'Neill has, during his approximately three years as Police Commissioner, abandoned his ideals and values of New York City police officers and betrayed the trust of every member of the NYPD, by failing to adequately defend the NYPD and its members from the endless onslaught of demonetization and anti-police rhetoric," the resolution states.
The union specifically accused de Blasio of empowering the Civilian Complaint Review Board by actively soliciting complaints against officers.
"Mayor de Blasio unlawfully interfered in the NYPD's disciplinary process through public statements and private conversations intended to coerce the police commissioners to render predetermined findings and penalties in the administrative trial of police officer Daniel Pantaleo."
The union blasted de Blasio for failing to mitigate a mental health crisis in the police department, which it believes has already contributed to the suicides of nine officers.
Deputy public information commissioner Phillip Walzak defended O'Neill.
"As the police commissioner has said before, his heart and soul are with the NYPD, and he is honored to lead this department as it continues to drive crime to historically low levels."