Grand Jury Won’t Charge Officer Who Killed Eric Garner With Illegal Chokehold
This afternoon, a grand jury voted not to file any charges against David Pantaleo, the New York Police Department officer who took the life of Eric Garner. The decision comes just a few weeks after a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri voted not to indict officer Darren Wilson for shooting and killing unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.
Here are some of the facts of the case. The fatal encounter started with allegations that Garner had committed the very minor offense of selling untaxed cigarettes. Garner died after Pantaleo put him in an chokehold — a maneuver banned by the police department. The medical examiner ruled Garner’s death as a homicide. The entire encounter was recorded on video by a witness. Garner’s last words were “I can’t breathe,” which he repeated 11 times.
Still, that was apparently not enough for the grand jury to find evidence of a crime. Now, Pantaleo may never face a public trial unless he is charged by federal or other authorities later. The Department of Justice is opening up a criminal civil rights investigation into the case.
We’ve put together a round up of some key stories to read on the topic:
- Grand Jury Won’t Charge Cop Who Killed Eric Garner With Illegal Chokehold.
- New York Members of Congress Call for Federal Investigation Into Eric Garner’s Death. “We want to make it clear this is not a black problem,” Rep. Charlie Rangel said. “This is a problem we have in our great country.”
- Social Media Erupts After Grand Jury Decision Not To Indict Cop Who Killed Eric Garner On Camera. It took no time at all.
- Fox Reacts To Garner Decision: ‘Hope Nothing Happens In NYC… We’ve Got The Tree Lighting Ceremony’. Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson expressed her deep concern about the outcome: not concern that the police killed Garner, but concern that anger over the decision could impact a “the tree lighting ceremony” scheduled for that evening at Rockefeller Center.
- The Gentle Giant Cut Down by Cops. Eric Garner’s final moments were captured on camera as he was held down by police officers. Mourners at his funeral wore T-shirts bearing his last words: “I can’t breathe!”
- The Guy Who Filmed Eric Garner Being Choked To Death Was Indicted By The Grand Jury. Despite his testimony, grand jury indicted Ramsey Orta, chokehold filmer, on gun charge.
- Beyond Body Cams: Emerging Technologies That Could Help Make Police More Accountable. Body cams are a great start, but there is other emerging technology that can help curb police abuse.
- If It Happened There: Courts Sanction Killings by U.S. Security Forces. How would the U.S. media cover the Eric Garner case if it happened in another country?
BOTTOM LINE: Eric Garner’s case highlights a troubling reality. Too often equal justice under the law has a different meaning in communities of color. We need to do more to ensure that we have a country in which everyone, no matter what the color of their skin or whether they are in position of authority, is treated equally by the criminal justice system. Only then can we strengthen the trust between our communities and law enforcement.