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:
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.
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