'Fire Pantaleo!': Hecklers interrupt Democratic debate, taunting Bill de Blasio about Eric Garner cop

'Fire Pantaleo!': Hecklers interrupt Democratic debate, taunting Bill de Blasio about Eric Garner cop originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio came under fire repeatedly during the city's handling of the death of Eric Garner on Wednesday, as the second night of the Democratic presidential debate was interrupted by hecklers.

Interruptions from protesters began during the candidates' opening statements, and forced Sen. Cory Booker to briefly pause his remarks.

The hecklers

out, "Fire Pantaleo!" -- a reference to Daniel Pantaleo, the New York police officer involved in the 2014 chokehold death of Eric Garner, whose dying words, “I can’t breathe,” became a national rallying cry for demonstrations about police treatment of minorities.

The chant was also shouted during de Blasio's opening statement, but the mayor spoke over it.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Cory Booker delivers his opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate in Detroit, July 31, 2019. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

PHOTO: Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Cory Booker delivers his opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate in Detroit, July 31, 2019. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

PHOTO: Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Cory Booker delivers his opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate in Detroit, July 31, 2019. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

Minutes later, Booker's campaign took to Twitter to say "good for you" to the protests.

Over the next hour, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, California Sen. Kamala Harris and Julian Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio and housing chief during the Obama administration, all weighed in.

"He knew what he was doing, that he was killing Eric Garner, and yet he has not been brought to justice. That police officer should be off the street," Castro said.

Earlier this month, the Justice Department declined to file federal civil rights charges against Pantaleo. A Staten Island grand jury chose not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo on any state criminal charges four months after Garner's death.

(MORE: Justice Dept will not file charges against officer involved in Eric Garner’s death )

Story continues

For his part, de Blasio faulted federal authorities for declining to prosecute Pantaleo, and said he sympathized with Garner's family.

"Let me tell you, I know the Garner family. They've gone through extraordinary pain. They're waiting for justice and they're going to get justice. There's finally going to be justice," de Blasio said.

And, like Booker, de Blasio's campaign took to Twitter to thank the protesters.

Additional reporting by ABC News' Aaron Katersky

all right reserved for yahoo news

Get the latest news delivered to your inbox

Follow us on social media networks

PREV Heartbroken mother issues desperate plea after daughter, 15, failed to come ...
NEXT 'You're dipping into Kool-aid you don't even know the flavor!' Biden and Booker ...