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NEW YORK (AP) — A grand jury cleared a white New York City police officer Wednesday in the videotaped chokehold death of an unarmed black man who had been stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, a lawyer for the victim’s family said.

The decision in Staten Island not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo threatened to add to the tensions that have simmered in the city since the July 17 death of Eric Garner — a case that sparked outrage and drew comparisons to the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Jonathan Moore, an attorney for Garner’s family, said he was told of the grand jury’s decision.

“I am actually astonished based on the evidence of the video tape, and the medical examiner, that this grand jury at this time wouldn’t indict for anything, is really just astonishing,” Moore said.

The Staten Island District Attorney’s office didn’t immediately respond to a call. There was no immediate comment from Pantaleo’s attorney nor the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, a union that has strongly backed the officer.

The grand jury could have considered a range of charges, from murder to a lesser offense such as reckless endangerment.

A video shot by an onlooker and widely viewed on the Internet showed the 43-year-old Garner telling a group of police officers to leave him alone as they tried to arrest him.

Pantaleo responded by wrapping his arm around Garner’s neck in an apparent chokehold, which is banned under NYPD policy. The heavyset Garner, who had asthma, was heard repeatedly gasping, “I can’t breathe!” A second video surfaced that showed police and paramedics appearing to make no effort to revive Garner while he lay motionless on the ground. He later died at a hospital.

As with Brown’s death in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, the Garner case sparked protests, accusations of racist policing and calls for federal prosecutors to intervene. But unlike the Missouri protests, the demonstrations in New York remained mostly peaceful. The case also prompted Police Commissioner William Bratton to order officers at the nation’s largest police department to undergo retraining on use of force.

The medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide and found that a chokehold contributed to it. A forensic pathologist hired by Garner’s family, Dr. Michael Baden, agreed with those findings, saying there was hemorrhaging on Garner’s neck indicative of neck compressions.

Police union officials and Pantaleo’s lawyer have argued that the officer used a takedown move taught by the police department, not a chokehold, because he was resisting arrest and that Garner’s poor health was the main reason he died.

While details on the grand jurors were not disclosed, Staten Island is the most politically conservative of the city’s five boroughs and home to many police and firefighters. The panel began hearing evidence in late September, including the video, autopsy results and testimony by Pantaleo.

Pantaleo had been stripped of his gun and badge and placed on desk duty while the case was under investigation. He is likely to remain on modified duty while the NYPD conducts an internal investigation that could result in administrative charges.

In anticipation of the announcement on the grand jury decision, police officials met with community leaders on Staten Island to head off a repeat of the response in Ferguson, where a grand jury decided not to indict the white officer who shot the black teen. Demonstrations there turned violent, resulting in more than 100 arrests and destruction of 12 commercial buildings by fire.

The last officer to be indicted in the death of a civilian was Richard Haste, charged in the February 2012 killing of Ramarley Graham in the Bronx. Graham was shot in a tiny bathroom in the three-family home where he lived with his grandmother. He was chased there by Haste who believed he was selling drugs.

Haste said he fired his weapon because he thought he was going to be shot. But no weapons were found in the apartment.

The officer was indicted on manslaughter charges in the summer of 2012, but the charges were dismissed by a judge who said prosecutors improperly instructed the grand jurors. A second grand jury decided not to re-indict the officer.

 

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46 thoughts on “Eric Garner Grand Jury Update: No Indictment of Officer in Chokehold Death

  1. wakeup on said:

    This is Outrageous! As a people we can never be complacent. We Must get to know our local officials so that when it’s time to VOTE, we know who and what we are voting for. Our fight for equality and justice should never leave our thought pattern. We can’t wait for these incidents to keep happening in order for us to get involved.

  2. blackspeak on said:

    When are people, particularly black people, going to learn that we all live under a social material system of white supremacy. Under this system there are TWO distinct judicial system, one for whites and one for non-whites. It is positively ridiculous, naive and ludicrous to believe otherwise. Until of unless the social material system of white supremacy is replaced with a system of justice, there will be more Mike Brown and Eric Garners, in America.

  3. I am a white man and totally disgusted with how this verdict came out. I followed this when it happened. Eric did not do anything wrong and he was murdered plain and simple. I will never forget hearing his voice pleading that he could not breathe. This is the most unjust, horrible situation that I can remember. His 6 kids and wife had their lives cheated by whatever an incompetent jury. My prayers are with his family.

  4. One of the Ten Commandments THOU SHALT NOT KILL. The Law will and has always protected their peers(noun). They (The Law), are constantly killing and are being justify by the Law. The day is soon to come for those that KILLS. and the Law will not be able to justify. GOD WILL.

  5. Sharron on said:

    It’s time for ACTION! I think we should keep the boycott going and don’t spend any money for XMAS this year. Instead, spend time with your loved ones before they’re gone. When we unite to affect the bottom line, they will take notice. No more dollars in hands that don’t support and protect us.

  6. Sam Eddington,

    Does this comment apply to white men who stole black people, and treated them with such evil and hatred. America should be thrown “under” the JAIL!

  7. Not surprised but disgusted!!! Black folks, we must unite!!! I’ve read plenty of opinions!! Any solutions??? There’s a new movement on the horizon!! Love and peace!!

  8. We all know what occurred right in front of us on live video with sound….Does anyone have faith in “Body Cameras?” … I don’t . What are we as Black Males going to do ? March ? Sing Freedom songs? Yell and scream on TV? Beg for sympathy from White Liberals , and elected Black Congress Men& Women? …. Does anybody really cares, including Black elected officials ?… What is The Black Man’s Purpose In America? … Getting Abused, Used for votes? Thrown in Jail like wild animals… Slaughtered on America’s street after fighting & Dying for America in foreign lands against people who treats us better than White Americans? What Freedom are we fighting for in foreign lands ? Ours or The Whiteman’s ?…… Meditate and ask yourself these questions … What is my purpose in America … Is this the land of freedom? The Bastion of Democracy … Democracy for Who?
    Did the Election Of Our Brother OBAMA help us or not? Obama is gone in 2 yrs what’s next? Elect more Black Congress people who don’t care about us? … Or do we get educated gain economical power ..Love each others instead of killing each other… demeaning each other? when Oh When are we going to understand that we must gain economical power and educate ourselves…. Nobody cares about us Black Males ..Including us. Too many of us hate each other!!!!

  9. We all know what occurred right in front of us on live video with sound….Does anyone have faith in “Body Cameras?” … I don’t . What are we as Black Males going to do ? March ? Sing Freedom songs? Yell and scream on TV? Beg for sympathy from White Liberals , and elected Black Congress Men& Women? …. Does anybody really cares, including Black elected officials ?… What is The Black Man’s Purpose In America? … Getting Abused, Used for votes? Thrown in Jail like wild animals… Slaughtered on America’s street after fighting & Dying for America in foreign lands against people who treats us better than White Americans? What Freedom are we fighting for in foreign lands ? Ours or The Whiteman’s ?…… Meditate and ask yourself these questions … What is my purpose in America … Is this the land of freedom? The Bastion of Democracy … Democracy for Who?
    Did the Election Of Our Brother OBAMA help us or not? Obama is gone in 2 yrs what’s next? Elect more Black Congress people who don’t care about us? … Or do we get educated gain economical power ..Love each others instead of killing each other… demeaning each other? Ehen Oh When are we going to understand that we must take steps to shape our economical destiny?

    • In a lot of these situations, no laws were broken!! Only someone with a small mind or shortage of brain cells would think that it was that simple!! If you’re black, it’s not that simple!

  10. Wow, what r we as a ppl r not gettin, we must all come together as one and pray to the Rock of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and ask for forgiveness for our transgressions like our ancestors did in Egypt and all the other captivates that we hv been in, in order to hv peace from our oppression. Plz study my ppl from the beginning, history repeats itself we r Israel.

  11. Timekeeper on said:

    Joy Reid on MSNBC just gave the most sobering statement on this decision. A choke hold is Illegal in NY by it’s police force. Secondly, there is a punishment that comes with applying this Illegal procedure.
    What this Grand Jury said & did in essence was telling America that you can legally do anything you want to a person of color and there is no responsibility for doing so.

  12. Honestly on said:

    The cave n!@@ers with badges would have to told the same lie as the cave n!@@er derren wilson told after murdering Michael Brown had there not been a video. Mr Garner was reaching for my gun. These arrogant neanderthal apes have to be destroyed. The only law Nubian people must adhere to is the law of survival, by any means necessary. These mayonnaise monkeys should have never been let out of the caves of Europe.

  13. stephanie on said:

    every dog has its day, I hope these officers all have a bitter and swift death that sends them straight to hell where than shovel shit for the devil.

  14. stephanie on said:

    My heart ache for our Black men in this country. I have a young grand son and my heart hurts when I see something like this. I don’t know what to tell him. All these grand jury are nothing but kkk, and they are seizing the opportunity to lynch our men.

  15. This is beyond upsetting! This is the modern kkkowards! Black people at this point must start carrying licensed firearms. May God forgive me, but maybe black police officers should start shooting white males, and see if the same rule would apply! May these murderous police officers “never” live a normal life!

  16. Shonna on said:

    It’s open season on black males that is for sure, and what better way to do it is to use the so called police department who is supposed to “protect and serve”. Meanwhile who is protecting us from them?!! What a joke, it’s modern day Lynching at its finest!.. Smh…

  17. Ms Curly on said:

    I looked at the video at least 10 times and I did not see this man resisting arrest. As a matter of fact his hands were level with his chest with the palms facing the cops. This is terrible.

  18. Looks like the Pigs have carte blanche to do as they please when it comes to the use of excessive force in Amerykah when it pertains to African-Americans.

    There is something dreadfully wrong with the system that allows so called “law enforcement” officer who all take an oath to protect and serve to now-SHOOT AND KILL un-armed people of color.

    If pigs were shooting and killing innocent White boys we all know the outcry and outcomes would be totally different. This all just goes to show how much people of colors lives are worth.

    If there ever was a time for us to unite, this is it!
    Instead of killing up each other in the hoods over dumb shit-we need to start saving our bullets and turn the guns on our real enemies!!!!!!!!!

  19. Johnny on said:

    We need a change in our police system. The judicial system as a whole when it comes down to Black versus white policemen. The stigma they have when it comes to African Americans is not good for us.They seem to get away with murder.A change need to come.We need to voice our disgust in peaceful protests all the way to the supreme court.

  20. This is a travesty ……
    Cops went WAAAY overboard and should be prosecuted for excessive force!!!
    Taking this guy down for selling $.25 cigarettes. No Justice was served in this. This case is 100000X times more valid than the Brown case.

  21. narteda on said:

    Well, well it has happened again!! It is open season on our black men..nothing is being done about it..BLACk MEN AND YOUNG BLACK MEN BE CAREFUL!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. Lou Kay on said:

    It is a down right despicable shame that so called policeman are held above the law. In either case no amount of money can bring them back to life. Such a disgraceful society and condition we live in when those on the other side of this case shows no remorse or offer any apology for their action. I believe that by faith God has something waiting on the murders.

  23. So are you telling me that the police can use an illegal choke hold and not be punished for it? Is this the year to annihilate the BLACK Male? No justice, no peace is alive and well!! God help this us all!! #sosad# disappointed in our justice system.

    • trudy wells on said:

      I feel as if we the black community need to change the law, after the brothers are dead, the white officers will feel as if the can start treating the black women the same way. Jim Crow all over again. I just hope that we do not get raped like our ancestors did.

      • Hate to break it to you Trudy old girl, but that ship done sailed. And some of the rapist are black. Can you believe it?

  24. The jury has spoken in 2 cases now, “a black man’s life is not worth much in this country!” Sad but true. Now, I bet the police officer who shot the 12-year old kid with a toy gun won’t face charges either. Even though the video shows the police pulled up and shot him in less than 2 seconds. Then lied and said the kid was ordered to drop the toy gun 3 times. In less than two seconds? We cannot allow the clock to be turned back to the 1950s and 1960s! That is what a lot of people seem to want, “the good ole days” of Jim Crow and staying in your place! Heaven help us all! Peace.

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