NBC News

Our NBC News partners at NBC New York are reporting that authorities said Saturday that Officer Daniel Pantaleo has been place on modified assignment pending further investigation into the arrest of 43-year-old Eric Garner, which was captured on cellphone video showing the chokehold, a tactic prohibited by NYPD policy.

Officials said another officer involved in the arrest, a four-year veteran of the force who has not been identified, has been put on administrative duty but has not had to surrender his gun and shield.

Earlier on Saturday, the Rev. Al Sharpton rallied with supporters and the family of Garner, whose arrest was captured on a cellphone video that has sparked outrage among some community members. Garner's wife collapsed in tears on stage.

"The issue is not whether one was selling cigarettes. The issue was how an unarmed man was subjected to a chokehold, and the result is he is no longer with us," Sharpton said after leading the crowd in chants of "no justice, no peace."  

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said in a statement that the NYPD's decision regarding Officer Pantaleo was politically motivated.

"The department’s modification of this police officer under these circumstances is a completely unwarranted, kneejerk reaction for political reasons and nothing more," Lynch said. "It is a decision by the department that effectively pre-judges this case and denies the officer the very benefit of a doubt that has long been part of the social contract that allows police officers to face the risks of this difficult and complex job."

The Staten Island District Attorney is investigating the death of Garner, who was being arrested for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes on Victory Boulevard and Bay Street in Tompkinsville at about 4:45 p.m. Thursday, according to police.

While he was being handcuffed, he went into cardiac arrest, police said. He was taken to Richmond University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Video of the arrest obtained by the Daily News shows Garner saying repeatedly "I can't breathe, I can't breathe," as officers hold him down and cuff him. The video shows one officer using a chokehold on Garner, a tactic prohibited by the NYPD.  

Mayor de Blasio said he was "very troubled" by the video and promised a thorough NYPD investigation in conjunction with the office of Richmond County District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan Jr.

"It is too early to jump to any conclusions about this case--we must wait for all the facts and details of the incident to emerge," de Blasio said.

The mayor recalled Garner as a beloved father and grandfather.  Witnesses said Garner was "gentle."

"He was a gentle giant. That man should not be dead," said the Rev. Lloyd Land. "He was as nice a person as you would ever want to meet."

Ramsey Orta, 22, who shot the video posted by the Daily News, told The Associated Press that Garner had just broken up a fight between two other men when the police approached him, claiming they'd observed him selling loose cigarettes.

"Before they even grabbed him, he told them he wasn't feeling good and that's why I pulled the camera out and started recording," said Orta, adding that Garner was asthmatic.