a staten island grand jury chose today not to indict the policeman whose illegal chokehold ultimately killed eric garner july 17, 2014. daniel pantaleo, the 29 year-old white officer who murdered garner, a black male father of six, made his first public statement since garner's death. pantaleo said, "it was never my intention to harm anyone."
upon learning of the grand jury decision, eric garner's widow, esaw, told the new york daily news, "oh my god. are you serious? i'm very disappointed. you can see in the video that he (the cop) was wrong. garner's 19 year-old son, eric snipes, said, "oh man, this is not fair. it's not fair how he could get away with murder. i feel disgusted. i'm never going to see my pops again."
the grand jury consisted of 15 white and eight black or latino jurors. grand juries, by law, operate in secrecy and hear only evidence presented by prosecutors. defense lawyers are barred from the process and 12 of the jurors have to agree for a final decision to be made.
staten island district attorney daniel m. donovan, jr. impaneled the grand jury in september and they heard testimony from the officers involved in garner's arrest. but an indictment was only considered against officer pantaleo; the other cops received immunity.
president obama weighed-in after consulting with u.s. attorney general eric holder. obama said, "this is an issue we've been dealing with for too long and it's time for us to make more progress than we've made. we're seeing too many instances where people do not have confidence that folks are being treated fairly. when anybody in the country is not being treated equally under the law, it is my job as president to solve it.
cops approached garner, 43, in front of a tompkinsville beauty supply store accusing him of selling loose cigarettes. a cellphone video showed garner arguing with the cops when pantaleo jumps him from behind and place him in a chokehold - banned by the nypd in 1994 after the killing of anthony baez who was placed in one - while dragging him to the ground with his knee firmly on garner's neck.
garner suffered from asthma. he screamed repeatedly, "i can't breathe, i can't breathe, i can't breathe." the next day pantaleo and his partner, officer justin d'amico, were put on desk duty. police commissioner william bratton on july 22 ordered all 35,000 nypd officers be retrained in the use of force. state senator bill perkins declared at a city hall rally, "this was a murder."
on july 31 new york city mayor bill de blasio joined rev. al sharpton and other community leaders in a round-table discussion on historically oppressive relationships between the black and latino communities in nyc, and the police. bratton was also in attendance. on the following day, the city medical examiner rules garner's death was a homicide.
in october, garner's family announced they plan to file a $75 million wrongful death lawsuit. they intend to name the city, the nypd and eight police officers as defendants. embattled attorney sanford rubenstein will represent the garner family in court.
mayor de blasio called wednesday "a painful day for so many new yorkers." but after speaking with holder, the mayor said the justice department will look into pantaleo's actions. de blasio said, "the federal government is engaged and clearly poised to act." esaw garner also spoke with holder, who assured her the feds would investigate her husband's senseless killing.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.