A grand jury decided not to indict a white New York City police officer Wednesday after he was caught choking an unarmed black man to death on video.
Officer Daniel Pantaleo, along with other police officers, stopped Eric Garner on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes July 17th. 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 what appeared to be a chokehold, which is banned under NYPD policy.
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.
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.
Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan said the grand jury found “no reasonable cause” to bring charges. The grand jury could have considered a range of charges, from murder to a lesser offense such as reckless endangerment.
Pantaleo said Wednesday it was never his intention to harm anyone. He said in a statement he feels very bad about the death of Eric Garner and hopes Garner’s family will accept his condolences.
The decision not to indict Pantaleo threatened to add to the tensions that have simmered in the city since the July 17 death of Garner — a case that sparked outrage and drew comparisons to the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. The Garner case also sparked protests, accusations of racist policing and calls for federal prosecutors to intervene.
Report compiled with information from the Associated Press.