Published: Tue, July 16, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Barr Decides Against Charges For NYPD Officer Involved In Eric Garner's Death

Barr Decides Against Charges For NYPD Officer Involved In Eric Garner's Death

The Department of Justice will not bring criminal charges against the New York City police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner, citing insufficient evidence, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Garner's death rocked the nation in 2014 after he was targeted for allegedly selling loose cigarettes on Staten Island. "And the evidence here does not support charging Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo or any other officer with a federal criminal civil rights violation".

The NYPD said its disciplinary process on Pantaleo will not be affected by the federal prosecutors' decision.

US Attorney Richard Donoghue said after an extensive five-year investigation, the Department of Justice couldn't prove that Pantaleo "acted in willful violation of the law" - while noting that Garner was not in a chokehold when he repeatedly gasped, "I can't breathe". Garner was black, and Pantaleo is white.

Proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Pantaleo acted willfully is a high legal standard that must be met to bring the charge, the senior official said. He has been suspended with pay.

Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, said the government "has let us down" with the decision. Garner said he couldn't breathe 11 times before he slipped out of consciousness.

The NYPD officer who put an unarmed African-American man Eric Garner in a chokehold, contributing to his death, won't be charged with any crime, an AP report said.

Garner's dying words, "I can't breathe", became a national rallying cry and a flashpoint in the Black Lives Matter movement. Attorney General William Barr reportedly made the final call not to move forward with charges. The New York Medical Examiner's Office determined that prior health conditions were a factor in his death, but that the police restraining maneuver was the major cause.

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"This city and nation should thank the Garner family, because in five years this case brought police accountability to the forefront", said Rev. Al Sharpton besides Garner's family on Tuesday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is running for president in part on the notion he helped improve police-community relations, said in a statement that the city is not the same as it was five years ago.

"Our last hope for justice in this case lies with the Police Commissioner".

Police reform advocates said the decision was upsetting but to be expected. In 2014, a Staten Island grand jury declined to criminally indict him, which de Blasio called "very painful".

Chokeholds are banned under police policy. But there is no fule requiring the NYPD to do so.

A departmental judge is due to make her recommendations to New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill, who will then ultimately decide whether to punish Pantaleo.

In both cases, a careful review of the facts led investigators to the truth, although Mr. Garner's death was an undeniable tragedy, Police Officer Pantaleo did not cause it. Scapegoating a good and honorable 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.

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