A Staten Island grand jury returned a no bill of indictment against New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo, in the strangle hold death of Eric Gardner, an African American, during a struggle with police when they attempted to arrest him for what was essentially a misdemeanor.
Only 17 July, police stopped the heavy-set father of six on Staten Island under suspicion of peddling untaxed “loose” cigarettes. Garner had been arrested previously for selling untaxed cigarettes, marijuana possession and false impersonation.
A video shot by an bystander shows Garner resisting arrest as a plainclothes officer attempts to to handcuff him. Backing away from the office, Garner tells him: “This stops today,” which has become a rallying cry for protesters in New York.
A struggle ensues. Eight-year NYPD veteran Daniel Pantaleo responds by putting his arm around Garner’s neck in a chokehold – banned under police policy – and wrestling the asthmatic man to the ground with the aid of several officers. Garner gasps “I can’t breathe” until his 350lb body goes limp. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital. [..]
The NYPD outlawed chokeholds over two decades ago, exactly because they can be deadly if administered inappropriately or carelessly. Still, between January 2009 and June 2014, the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, an independent agency that investigates police misconduct, received 1,128 civilian complaints involving chokehold allegations. Of these, only a small fraction of the cases are ever substantiated, just ten over the five and a half year window.
In the days after Garner’s death, Bratton said all 35,000 officers would be retrained on the department’s use of force policy.
The family has sued the city and the police department, as well as several officers involved in the incident.
Unlike the shooting of Michael Brown, the struggle that resulted in Mr. Garner’s death was caught on video that went viral.
This just another instance of the failure of prosecutors around the country to hold police accountable for the deaths of mostly black and mentally ill civilians. This needs to end.