Despite a medical examiner declaring that Eric Garner’s cause of death was a homicide, a grand jury in Staten Island has decided that the officer who choked Garner ON CAMERA will not be charged in his death.
Garner died back in July after being stopped by police on the sidewalk for selling loose cigarettes in Staten Island. Garner’s interaction with officers was caught on tape, and Officer Daniel Pantaleo was seen putting Garner in a chokehold, which impaired Garner’s breathing and ended up being fatal. Garner could be heard saying in the video, “I can’t breathe.”
The grand jury was supposed to take a look at everything and determine whether or not the choking action was so reckless that it should warrant a criminal charge. They listened to the officer who took the stand in his own defense at the end of November, watched the tape, listened to the testimony of the man who recorded the tape and viewed the evidence. The grand jury, made up according to the NBC affiliate of 14 white individuals and nine non-white ones, decided that his behavior didn’t warrant a criminal charge. All this despite the fact that chokeholds are against NYPD policy and the fact that he was stopped not for harming anyone (he allegedly had just broken up a fight), but selling loose cigarettes. The expert for New York’s NBC affiliate claimed that the jury might have felt that after hearing Officer Pantaleo say that he felt that he “needed” to use the force he did, and feeling that Garner somewhat resisted his arrest “a bit,” there wasn’t enough “evidence” for criminal charges. Pantaleo was looking at either a criminally negligent homicide charge, a reckless endangerment charge or a manslaughter charge.
This is not the end though. According to NY1 and NBC, he could face NYPD departmental charges for using a method against policy, and there’s a likely civil lawsuit coming from the family for $75 million against the NYPD, and a civil rights investigation.
Police have already set up barricades outside the district attorney’s office and are preparing for protests and whatever else may happen. But the son of Eric Garner, Eric Snipes, 18, told reporters before the ruling that he was pretty sure there wouldn’t be the type of riots that the country saw happen in Ferguson after a majority white grand jury decided against charging Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Mike Brown.
“It’s not going to be a Ferguson-like protest because I think everybody knows my father wasn’t a violent man and they’re going to respect his memory by remaining peaceful. It’s not going to be like it was there.”
The family of Eric Garner has not issued a statement as of yet, but interesting enough, Officer Pantaleo has:
I became a police officer to help people and to protect those who can’t protect themselves. It is never my intention to harm anyone and I feel very bad about the death of Mr. Garner. My family and I include him and his family in our prayers and I hope that they will accept my personal condolences for their loss.