The mother of Eric Garner angrily condemned Tuesday’s decision by the Justice Department not to bring charges against New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo in her son’s death.
“The decision [adds] insult to injury,” Gwen Carr, who has been a leader of the activist protests surrounding the case, told reporters outside the federal court building in Manhattan, reported the New York Daily News.
The federal decision ended a long inquiry into a case that sharply divided officials and prompted national protests over excessive force by the police, reports the New York Times. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are announcing the decision not to bring civil rights or criminal charges on Tuesday, just one day before the fifth anniversary of Garner’s death.
That is the deadline by which they would have to file some of the possible charges against the officer, Daniel Pantaleo. The decision ends the hopes of the Garner family and their supporters that Pantaleo might face prosecution.
“I watched him kill my father for five years…in the court room, playing the video—discounting the fact that this man choked my father outside on the street!,” Emerald Snipes told reporters outside the federal courthouse, NY 1 reports.
“Choked him with no remorse! The federal government does not want to prosecute Pantaleo for killing Eric Garner! Nobody wants to hold anybody accountable?!”
The New York Police Department finished last month a disciplinary trial to determine if Pantaleo should be fired or punished for using what appeared to be a chokehold, which the department banned more than two decades ago. The decision will be up to Police Commissioner James O’Neill after a police administrative judge issues her verdict. Pantaleo, 34, has been on desk duty since Garner died.
Garner, who was 43, died on a Staten Island sidewalk July 17, 2014, after Pantaleo wrapped an arm around his neck and took him to the ground and other officers put their weight on him.
A medical examiner testified at the disciplinary hearing that the pressure on Garner’s neck and chest caused a fatal asthma attack. Bystanders recorded Garner as he gasped “I can’t breathe,” which became a rallying cry for protesters.
His death was one of several fatal encounters between blacks and the police, including the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., a month later, that catalyzed the Black Lives Matter movement. No New York officer involved in Garner’s death has been charged with a crime or disciplined.
TCR news intern Brian Demo contributed to this summary.