Eric Garner suffered a heart a*ttack after p*olice a*ttempted to a*rrest him for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. His last words, “I can’t breathe” became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The Staten Island p*olice commander who oversaw the events that led to the t*ragic d*eath of Eric Garner in 2014 texted an officer that the d*eath was “no big deal,” according to a New York Times report.

The texts between commander Lt. Christopher Bannon and Sgt. Dhanan Saminath were revealed for the first time Thursday during the disciplinary hearing for a*ccused officer Daniel Pantaleo, who faces termination for his reckless use of a chokehold that lead to Garner’s d*eath.

Pantaleo a*rrested the Staten Island man in July 2014 on suspicion that he was selling loose, untaxed cigarettes on the street. The i*ncident, caught on video, showed the officer take Garner, 44, to the ground and place him in the department-banned maneuver.

Garner’s last words, “I can’t breathe,” became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement and their fight against p*olice b*rutality.

On July 17, 2014, Bannon received a text message from Saminath alerting him to the a*rrest gone wrong. The sergeant told Bannon that the suspect, later identified as Garner, had been w*restled to the ground.

“When they took him down, Eric went into cardiac a*rrest. He’s likely DOA (dead on arrival),” Saminath texted, adding that Garner didn’t have a pulse.

“Not a big deal,” the lieutenant wrote back. “We were effecting a lawful a*rrest.”

The New York Times reported that the texts drew gasps from the c*ourtroom as they were read aloud.

Garner, a father-of-six suffered a h*eart a*ttack in the i*ncident and later d*ied. An a*utopsy by the city’s m*edical e*xaminer determined that the ch*oke hold, along with Garner’s poor health — a*sthma, high b*lood pressure, d*iabetes — had contributed to his d*eath. That same m*edical e*xaminer took the stand Thursday and testified that the banned maneuver “set into motion a lethal sequence” that led to Garner’s demise.

A grand j*ury declined to indict Pantaleo on c*riminal ch*arges in the i*ncident in 2014, sparking nights of p*rotest across the city. A civil rights inquiry was launched, but ch*arges have yet to be f*iled. The statute of limitations expires in July, on the five year anniversary of Garner’s a*rrest.

The city awarded Garner’s family a $5.9 million wrongful d*eath settlement in 2015.

In trying to explain the damning texts, Bannon insisted he meant no harm by what he said.

“My reasoning,’’ the lieutenant said, “was not to be malicious. It’s to make sure the officer knew he was put in a bad situation.”

P*rosecutor Suzanne O’Hare pressed Bannon on the issue, asking: “Would you agree that Eric Garner was put in a bad situation?”

“I don’t know how to answer that,” he replied after a long pause.

Bannon’s explanation only angered Gwen Carr, Garner’s mother.

“No big deal?” Carr angrily told reporters after the hearing in Lower Manhattan. “If one of his loved ones was on the ground dead and someone came up to him and said, ‘It’s no big deal,’ how would you feel about it?”

Thursdays’s h*earing also focused on low-level “quality of life” p*olicing that o*fficers were conducting in the weeks before Garner’s d*eath, according to the Times. This enf*orcement, better known as “b*roken windows p*olicing,” tends to target Blacks and other r*acial minorities. P*olice said Garner had been a*rrested twice during that c*rackdown, the third on the day he d*ied.

“The a*rrest of Eric Garner was the result of a chain of decisions originating at the very highest levels of the N.Y.P.D.,” Patrick J. Lynch, the president of the P*olice Benevolent Association, told reporters after the h*earing. “P*olice officers who enf*orce quality of life o*ffenses are not cowboys or free agents — they follow the direction of their supervisors, who are in turn responding to complaints from the community.”

Pantaleo’s supervisors also took the stand and described the a*ccused c*op as an outstanding o*fficer.

“On a scale of 0 to 5, he was a 5.0,” Bannon told the c*ourt. “O*fficer Pantaleo was one of the best o*fficers I’ve supervised.’’

Pantaleo faces NYPD administrative ch*arges of reckless use of f*orce and strangulation. If found g*uilty, he could f*ace p*unishment ranging from the loss of vacation days to termination.

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