By: Liana DeMasi
On December 3rd, a grand jury in Staten Island chose to not indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for killing Eric Garner via a chokehold this past July. The commissioner of the NYPD, Bill Bratton, stated that there was going to be three more investigations in regards to the case that could result in a civil case or federal charges for Pantaleo.
In the midst of controversy and outrage surrounding the indictment of Darren Wilson, the officer who killed Michael Brown in FeFergusonMO, the Garner decision angered many who took to the streets in protest across the US. Many protesters were seen shouting “I can’t breathe”, words Eric Garner said eleven times in the video that documented the incident. In fact, on December 4th in Herald Square, New York City, hundreds of protesters sat down and took an eleven minute moment of silence for Eric Garner; each minute represented the amount of times he told I officers that he could not breathe.
The decision in this case is extremely controversial; perhaps more controversial than the Brown case. This is due to the fact that there were many different contradicting eye-witness accounts as well as autopsy reports in the Brown case, but in the Garner case there is a video documenting the incident, which leaves little to no room for dispute. The officer and his partner approached an unarmed Garner for selling untaxed cigarettes, which while illegal is a nonviolent offense, punishable by a misdemeanor. The officer then placed Garner in a chokehold, a move that is strictly off-limits by NYPD guidelines, and proceeded to keep him in that chokehold after Garner had already been brought to the ground, which resulted in his death.
This case and others like it caused Mayor Bill de Blasio to initiate a retraining program for NYPD officers that teach them how to deal with similar situations in order for similar outcomes to not occur. He is also installing a training program for rookies after they graduate from the Police Academy. Hopefully these training sessions will further educate officers on how to deal with situations in a manner that ends in a proper arrest rather than a proper burial.