BLACK LIVES MATTER: Activists calling for NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo to be fired and sent to jail shut down the FDR highway on May 13
FEDERAL PROSECUTORS will not charge a police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner.
Garner was tragically killed as New York police officers attempted to arrest him in 2014 over the sale of loose cigarettes.
Officer Daniel Pantaleo was accused of placing an unarmed Garner in a deadly chokehold as he repeatedly cried: “I can’t breathe.”
US attorney Richard P Donoghue said: “Mr Garner’s death is a tragedy…but the evidence here does not support charging police officer Daniel Pantaleo or any other officer with a federal criminal civil rights violation.”
He added: “Even if we could prove that officer Pantaleo’s hold of Mr Garner constituted unreasonable force, we would still have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that officer Pantaleo acted willfully in violation of the law.”
Gwen Carr, Garner’s mother spoke at a press conference on Tuesday.
“Five years ago, my son said ‘I can’t breathe’ 11 times. Today, we can’t breathe. Because they have let us down,” she said.
Initially there were conflicting views between Washington and New York Justice departments on whether to press charges against officer Pantaleo. Siding with the Police Union, some argued that while the case was an “undeniable tragedy”, Pantaleo was not to blame.
“Scapegoating a good and honourable officer, who was doing his job in the manner he was taught, will not heal the wounds this case has caused for our entire city,” said Pat Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association.
A federal civil rights investigation was launched after a grand jury refused to indict the officer in December 2014. Pantaleo argued he had used a legal takedown method “the seatbelt”, but medical experts insist it contributed to Mr Garner’s death.
Outisde City Hall, Garner’s daughter Emerald delivered an emotional statement in response to the justice department’s decision. She paid tribute to her late sister, Erica, a civil rights campaigner who died of a heart attack in December 2017.
“As you all can tell I’m very angry, I am very angry. I stand here in the spirit of my sister, who fought for justice until her dying day for my father. Standing out protesting, she called the CCRB to do this investigation and they didn’t do they job! They called the department of justice but they didn’t do they job,” she said.
She added: “I’m going to stand outside and I’m going to scream it Pantaleo needs to be fired.
“No, there won’t be no calm, no, there won’t be no peace, no justice, no peace.”
The justice department’s decision coincides with the fifth anniversary of Garner’s death – which made headlines across the world and kick started the Black Lives Matter movement – and was delivered a day before the statute of limitations expired.
Anti-police brutality campaigners said the decision was upsetting but expected.
Hawk Newsome, head of New York’s Black Lives Matter campaign, said: “It’s America, man. As a black man in America I have no expectation that we will receive justice in court without radical change in this country.”
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