No Indictment on the Eric Garner Chokehold Case in New York

Story by New York Times
Written by J. David Goodman
Photo of Eric Garner with his children
Link to incident: http://kirktanter.blogspot.com/2014/07/staten-island-man-dies-after-nypd-cop.html

A Staten Island grand jury has voted not to bring criminal charges against the New York City police officer at the center of the Eric Garner case, a person briefed on the matter said today.

The decision was reached today after months of testimony including from the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, who used a chokehold to restrain Mr. Garner, an unarmed Black man who died after a confrontation. It came less than two weeks after a grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., declined to bring charges against a White officer who fatally shot an unarmed Black teenager, Michael Brown.

For days, the New York City Police Department has been readying for a new round of protests, which began in the city after the Ferguson decision and which were expected to continue and possibly grow if the grand jury declined to bring charges against the officer.

In Ferguson, protesters and police officers clashed in the streets almost immediately after Mr. Brown’s killing by Officer Darren Wilson in August; riots erupted on the night the grand jury’s decision was announced last month. By contrast, in late August, a demonstration on Staten Island over the death of Mr. Garner, 43, proceeded without confrontation or arrest.

The grand jury, impaneled by District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan Jr. in September, has weighed evidence – including a video recorded by bystanders of Mr. Garner’s violent arrest – and heard testimony from the officers involved.

Grand juries determine whether enough evidence exists for a case to go forward to a criminal trial, either before a jury or a judge. By law, they operate in secret and hear only evidence presented by prosecutors, who also instruct the grand jurors on the law. Defense lawyers are barred from speaking. For a decision, 12 jurors who have heard all the evidence must agree.

An indictment was considered only against Officer Pantaleo (photo below choking Garner), who testified last, on Nov. 21, his lawyer, Stuart London, said. The other officers received immunity, he said.

The case exposed lapses in police tactics – chokeholds are banned by the Police Department’s own guidelines – and raised questions about the aggressive policing of minor offenses in a time of historically low crime. The officers, part of a plainclothes unit, suspected Mr. Garner of selling loose cigarettes on the street near the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, a complaint among local business owners.

Mr. Garner’s death hastened an effort to retrain all the department’s patrol officers and brought scrutiny on how officers who violate its rules are disciplined. Officer Pantaleo has been stripped of his gun and badge.

It was unclear whether Officer Pantaleo would return to enforcement duties. He still faces potential punishment from the Police Department, including possible termination.

Articles Links below:
CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/03/justice/new-york-grand-jury-chokehold/index.html?hpt=hp_t1
NBC News: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Grand-Jury-Decision-Eric-Garner-Staten-Island-Chokehold-Death-NYPD-284595921.html
ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/US/nypd-officer-indicted-eric-garner-choke-hold-death/story?id=27341079
New York Post: http://nypost.com/2014/12/03/cop-cleared-in-eric-garner-chokehold-death/
New York Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nypd-eric-garner-chokehold-death-not-indicted-article-1.2031841
Link to Incident: http://kirktanter.blogspot.com/2014/07/staten-island-man-dies-after-nypd-cop.html


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