Eric Garner’s death, on July 17, 2014, prompted massive protests in New York, and his final words “I can’t breathe” soon echoed on the streets in dozens of American cities as a succession of police-involved killings sparked furor across the nation. But while outrage came quickly, the bureaucracy of justice has moved at a glacial pace. Nearly half a decade later, Garner’s killing has yet to be fully adjudicated, The Washington Post reports.
Local prosecutors opted not to charge Officer Daniel Pantaleo with a crime. A federal investigation stalled after attorneys in Washington, who wanted to charge the officer with civil rights violations, met resistance from FBI investigators and federal prosecutors in New York, who did not. The closest Garner’s family will come to some sort of resolution played out in recent weeks in a room on the fourth floor of New York police headquarters, where an internal administrative process will determine whether Pantaleo should be fired for using a chokehold, a maneuver the department has long banned. Aside from a small cadre of journalists scribbling on pads, the reckoning of Garner’s very public death has happened in private. But the more than 20 hours of trial testimony — together with previous public accounts of the incident — permit a comprehensive and detailed examination of Garner’s death, one of the most consequential events in the 174-year history of the NYPD and a pivotal flash point in what would become the Black Lives Matter movement.