Grand Jury Won't Indict NYPD Officer In Eric Garner Chokehold Death
Less than two weeks after a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown, a grand jury in New York, has reportedly ruled that there'll be no indictment of the officer who used a deadly chokehold on Eric Garner.
Both officers, Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo, are white; the victims black.
I am stunned by the failure to indict Eric Garner's killer.
— John Legend (@johnlegend) December 3, 2014
Garner, 43, was wrestled to the ground by plainclothes officer Pantaleo on July 17 in Staten Island, New York, after police claimed they saw him selling cigarettes illegally on the street.
In a video captured by a bystander, Garner could be heard protesting, "I did nothing ... I'm just here minding my own business, officer. ... Please, just leave me alone," as Pantaleo put him in a chokehold. Three other officers soon ran in to handcuff Garner. His subsequent death revived an ongoing debate about police brutality, with many pointing to asthma-sufferer Garner's pleas of "I can't breathe, I can't breathe, I can't breathe" as evidence of police overreaction.
— PUSHA T (@PUSHA_T) December 3, 2014
The New York City medical examiner ruled the death a homicide in August, with an autopsy finding that Garner died due to compressions to the neck and chest and "prone positioning during physical restraint by police."
The arrest was caught on tape and quickly caused a firestorm on social media. In light of the looting and violence that led to dozens of arrests in Ferguson in the wake of the Wilson verdict, officials in New York said they were prepared to avoid a repeat in the city.
and to all the young black men… from Stapleton Projects in Staten Island, all the way to Compton in Los Angeles… STAY STRONG.
— Mack™ (@MACKWILDS) December 3, 2014
Cries for racial equality across the nation have followed Wednesday's ruling, along with a statement from Pantaleo to ABC News that was swiftly dismissed by Garner's wife:
"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.”
Asked whether she had accepted Pantaleo's condolences, Esaw Garner, told reporters at a press conference:
"Hell, no. The time for remorse would have been when my husband was yelling to breathe. That would have been the time for [Pantaleo] to show some ... type of care for another human being's life, when he was screaming 11 times that he can't breathe."
Unlike the Brown case, in which grand jury members had to rely on sometimes conflicting testimony from Wilson and eyewitnesses, the 23 jurors in the Garner case had the clear video -- in which Pantaleo uses a hold forbidden by N.Y.P.D. protocols -- to rely on in deciding whether there was enough evidence to bring charges and take the case to trial.
The decision came just as the NYPD announced that it was rolling out body cameras for officers, many of which are expected to be in place by this weekend.
For more information on issues like racial profiling, how it works and why it matters, head over to MTV's Look Different.