Police officer Daniel Pantaleo received a no bill today in court. A grand jury decided not to indict the officer for the death of Eric Garner who was taken down via a chokehold by Daniel Pantaleo and several officers. Ironically the decision comes a few hours after the NYPD had a conference showing the use of body cams. The encounter with Garner was videotaped by a young Latino using his cell phone. He was arrested weeks after on another charge and claimed to have been stalked by the NYPD.
I will update this post as I learn more details.
Immediately after the decision by the grand jury, massive protests took place in New York City and in major cities throughout the United States. Mayor Di Blasio in an unprecedented press conference looked visibly emotional and supported the notion that police have been aggressively targeting minority groups. He emphasized that he worried about his own son Dante -who is a product of an interracial relationship- becoming a target for police . This is probably the first time a New York City mayor had sided with the victim instead of the NYPD. Previous mayors have defended the actions of NYPD. Di Blasio’s comments angered Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association who called the mayor’s comments irresponsible and described them as siding with the “criminal” who in this case would be Eric Garner.
Many throughout the nation and world are in disbelief that there was no indictment against Daniel Pantaleo who is clearly seen taking down Garner with a chokehold. Chokeholds while not illegal in New York are against NYPD policy and are prohibited. Some supporters of the non-indictment claim that Garner was simply taken down and that he was not being suffocated because he was saying “I can’t breathe.” According to them, people who can’t breathe can’t talk. This of course is simply a silly contrarian response as one can speak out of distress with little oxygen still in the lungs. Moreover, the fact that the medical examiner ruled Eric Garner’s death a homicide is very telling. The death was caused by a chokehold, compression to the neck and chest as detailed in the report. This contradicts the claims that Garner died of health related problems. It is sad that some are trying to rationalize their defense of this non-indictment when the facts clearly stated that his death was caused by a chokehold, compression to the neck and chest; not to mention that it was ruled at homicide!
Ironically, hours before the decision was released, mayor Di Blasio and commissioner Bratton had a press conference exhibiting the body cams that were going to be tested in several precincts. Perhaps this is one of the reasons the mayor was upset after the decision. The idea of body cams has been presented as a means to reduce incidents like that of Michael Brown and Eric Garner; however, if a video of Garner’s encounter with the NYPD was clearly presented and it did not aid in indicting Pantaleo, then what good would body cams on police officers be? Moreover, some political pundits such as Sean Hannity of Fox News downplay the experiences of minorities with police officers and bring up Black on Black crimes out of ignorance. Attorney general Eric Holder said in a press conference that many studies indicate that there is a big problem with police aggression especially when dealing with minorities. This is a big problem that must be addressed.
A judge allowed limited information regarding the grand jury to be released. According to the data, there were 50 witnesses, 22 of the 50 were civilians while 28 of them were a mix of police, EMT workers and doctors. There were 60 exhibits shown including 4 videos. It is believed that perhaps the evidence was presented in such a way as to support the claim that Pantaleo was simply “taking down” Eric Garner. Some believe the district attorney on the case was not objective since they often work daily with police; not to mention that this attorney was elected in Staten Island which is the most conservative of the 5 boroughs and where many NYPD officers reside in. They speculate that this attorney may have tried to “please” Staten Island constituents, many who are NYPD officers. We cannot know for sure what really happened and what exactly was presented due to the fact that grand juries are supposed to be secretive.
As is the norm now, Twitter and other social media lit up with many hashtags and tweets. Here are some:
No indictment in NY chokehold death. — Sacerdotus (@SCDTVS) December 3, 2014
BREAKING: Lawyer: No indictment for New York City police officer in chokehold death of unarmed man. — The Associated Press (@AP) December 3, 2014
2 of my school friends are NYPD officers and it’s not a fun or easy job. Changes need to be made in officer training. — Sacerdotus (@SCDTVS) December 3, 2014
I applaud New Yorkers for carrying out peaceful protests. Please keep it like this! Let us pray for all those involved in this tragedy. God help us all!