No Indictment For Officer After Death Of Eric Garner

Eric Garner’s death by an NYPD officer on July 17 will not be indicted to trial, a Staten Island grand jury decided on Wednesday.

The white police officer Daniel Pantaleo used a chokehold to restrain Garner, a 43-year-old unarmed black man who weighed about 350 pounds. Garner died from the force later that night and the medical examiner ruled it as a homicide.

Officers suspected Garner sold loose cigarettes on the street near Staten Island Ferry Terminal, which was a complaint of local business owners. Garner was arrested for that suspicion two months before his death. He also had a long criminal record, including 30 arrests.

Video of the encounter was captured on someone’s cell phone. Garner raised his hands and told the officers not to touch him. When they grabbed him, Garner, who had asthma, said, “I can’t breathe,” multiple times as police took him into a chokehold. NYPD prohibits chokeholds.

After Garner’s death, four emergency workers were suspended and two police officers, including Pantaleo, turned in their guns and badges as investigations began.

After months of testimony from witnesses and officers, the grand jury reached its decision less than two weeks after the Ferguson decision. The Ferguson grand jury also chose to not indict a white police officer, Darren Wilson, who killed an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, after a confrontation.

With the decision to not indict Pantaleo, social media showed the same kind of backlash as the decision to not indict Wilson.

With the outpour of Ferguson protests throughout the country, the New York City Police Department has been preparing for demonstrations in the city.

While there are similarities between the Ferguson and Staten Island decision, stark differences can be seen through the interactions between police and protesters. Immediately after Brown’s death and after the grand jury’s announcement, Ferguson police and protesters clashed. This included riots, looting, fires, arrests, and the use of tear gas.

However, protesters held a demonstration in August for the death of Eric Garner and no confrontation occurred with police. No arrests were made either.

Last week, Ferguson protests in New York City stopped traffic on two major highways and the Lincoln Tunnel. NYPD said if that happens with Garner protests, people will be arrested.

The group This Stops Now planned demonstrations for Garner at 5:30 p.m. the day after the grand jury decision, whether Pantaleo was indicted or not. The group released a statement, “Regardless of the verdict, we’ll be hitting the streets to demand #Justicefor Eric Garner and an end to broken window policing.”

This Stops Now also said, “A grand jury indictment doesn’t equal justice. In cases where a grand jury has indicted, the majority of time the officers are found not guilty at trial.”

After the Ferguson decision, NAACP President and CEO Cornell Brooks spoke on CBS This Morning. He said, “We’re calling for the kind of systemic, fundamental reform that can change this country and prevent future deaths. We have Michael Brown, we have Eric Garner, we have a litany and a list of young people who have lost their lives at the hands of police. This cannot be tolerated.”

Though the grand jury decided to not indict Dan Pantaleo for the death of Eric Garner, it is unclear if he will return to law enforcement. Pantaleo still faces punishment from NYPD, including a possible termination.

[Photo Credit: Thomas Good]

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