[guest post by Dana]
The decision comes one day before the deadline for charges to be filed:
A New York City police officer will not face federal charges in the death of Eric Garner, the unarmed black man heard in a video repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe” after he was put in an apparent chokehold, according to a person familiar with the case.
The Justice Department on Tuesday concluded its five-year investigation and will not bring civil rights or criminal charges against NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who was seen in the video with his arm around Garner’s neck.
This is rather interesting:
Attorney General William Barr made the decision not to bring charges against Pantaleo, siding with a Justice Department team from New York over the Civil Rights Division in Washington, due to concerns that prosecutors could not successfully prove the officer acted willfully, a senior Justice Department official said.
[A]ttorneys in the Civil Rights Division thought charges could have been filed, according to two DOJ officials.
Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue said today:
“Like many of you, I have watched that video many times, and each time I’ve watched it, I’m left with the same reaction: that the death of Eric Garner was a tragedy,” Donoghue said. “The job of a federal prosecutor, however, is not to let our emotions dictate our decisions. Our job is to review the evidence gathered during the investigation, like the video, to assess whether we can prove that a federal crime was committed.”
“The video and the other evidence gathered in the investigation does not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Pantaleo acted willfully in violation of federal law,” Donoghue said.
Garner’s cause of death was listed by the city’s medical examiner as a “compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.”
Officer Pantaleo was stripped of his gun and badge and was placed on desk duty in 2014. At that time, the president of the city’s largest police union called Pantaleo’s reassignment a “completely unwarranted, knee-jerk reaction.”
Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner said today about the decision:
We’re here with heavy hearts because the DOJ has failed us. Although we looked for better from them, five years ago my son said ‘I can’t breathe’ 11 times, and today we can’t breathe because they have let us down.
Tomorrow will mark five years since Garner’s death.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)