No civil rights charges filed in Eric Garner death
by Kyle Ziemnick
Posted 7/16/19, 12:43 pm
Federal prosecutors said Tuesday they will not bring civil rights charges against a New York City police officer in the death of Eric Garner. U.S. Attorney General William Barr made the decision and it was announced the day before the statute of limitations ran out. In late 2014, Garner, who is African American, attempted to resist arrest on charges of illicit tobacco sales. Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who is white, took him down with a chokehold, a move banned by New York Police Department policy. Garner lost consciousness and later died. Pantaleo claimed he used a takedown move called the “seatbelt,” but a medical examiner said a chokehold contributed to Garner’s death.
“The evidence here does not support charging Officer Daniel Pantaleo or any other officer with a federal civil rights violation,” said Richard Donoghue, the U.S. attorney for eastern New York. “Even if we could prove that Officer Pantaleo’s hold of Mr. Garner constituted unreasonable force, we would still have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Pantaleo acted willfully in violation of the law.”
A senior U.S. Department of Justice official told the Associated Press that the Eastern District of New York recommended no charges, but Justice Department civil rights prosecutors recommended charging Pantaleo. Barr, according to the official, watched the video and received several briefings and made the final decision not to charge the officer. A state grand jury also declined to indict Pantaleo on any criminal charges.
Pantaleo still faces departmental charges from the NYPD in proceedings that federal prosecutors are observing. New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill holds the final say on whether he is dismissed. Pantaleo has continued to work for the NYPD, but he has not reentered the field since the incident.
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