The Justice Department will not charge the New York Police officers involved in chokehold death death of Eric Garner -- A 2014 incident that brought nationwide protests, and helped fuel the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Garner died during an attempted arrest in Staten Island — after he was briefly placed in a chokehold by officer Daniel Pantaleo.
Garner’s last words, caught on bystander video, were: ‘I can’t breathe.’ But the U.S. attorney overseeing the case, on Tuesday, said it could not be proven that Pantaleo acted willfully in violation of federal law: (SOUNDBITE) U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK, RICHARD DONOGHUE, SAYING: “Mr. Garner stated, I can’t breathe.
But I would point out that he made this statement only after he fell to the sidewalk and after officer Pantaleo released his grip from Mr. Garner’s neck.” Garner’s family blasted Tuesday’s decision as a betrayal: (SOUNDBITE) ERIC GARNER'S MOTHER, GWEN CARR, SAYING: Plainclothes police officers tried to arrest Garner for allegedly selling loose cigarettes… and a cell phone video captured the 43-year-old’s final moments.
Pantaleo’s lawyers argued he did not use a chokehold, but instead used an authorized “seatbelt” hold that slipped as Garner struggled.
And Tuesday prosecutors agreed: (SOUNDBITE) U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK, RICHARD DONOGHUE, SAYING: “At this point, there’s nothing in the video that suggests that officer Pantaleo intended or attempted to place Mr. Garner in a chokehold.” In December 2014, a New York grand jury declined to indict the officer on state criminal charges.
The NYPD has conducted an internal disciplinary review, which could result in Pantaleo being fired.
Several Democratic contenders for the White House, including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, condemned the decision.
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris of California, a former prosecutor, wrote on Twitter, “This is a miscarriage of justice.
... My heart breaks for the Garner family.”