A New York City grand jury declined to indict a white police officer in the case of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old unarmed black man who died July 17 in a police chokehold. Despite the fact that the medical examiner ruled his death a homicide!
The deaf, dumb, and blind grand jury found "no reasonable cause" to indict officer Daniel Pantaleo, who was attempting to arrest Garner for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes. Not guns, not drugs, not hooker, or nuclear weapon. UNTAXED CIGARETTES! Because, God knows there are no crimes more serious in New York City than untaxed cigarettes!
Amid crowds gathering tonight to protest in Manhattan and growing discord on social media about the decision, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department is opening a federal civil rights inquiry.
Holder, while urging calm in the aftermath of yet another controversial grand jury action, promised that the federal inquiry would be "independent, thorough and fair.''
President Obama said the grand jury decision will spark strong reaction from the public, especially in the wake of a similar decision in Missouri last week not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed Michael Brown.
"There was a decision that came out today by a grand jury not to indict police officers who had interacted with an individual named Eric Garner in New York City -- all of which was caught on video tape and speaks to the larger issues that we've been talking about now for the last week, the last month, the last year and, sadly, for decades," Obama said.
"And that is the concern on the part of too many minority communities that law enforcement is not working with them and dealing with them in a fair way."
State charges could have ranged from murder to reckless endangerment.
Garner, who had asthma, could be heard on video shouting, "I can't breathe" at least eight times as Pantaleo takes him down in what appears to be a chokehold, an action the New York Police Department prohibits. He died in a hospital hours later.
"Oh, my God, are you serious?" Esaw Garner, Eric Garner's widow, said, "I'm very disappointed. You can see in the video that he (the cop) was dead wrong!"
Family lawyer Jonathan Moore said he was "actually astonished based on the evidence of the videotape, and the medical examiner, that this grand jury at this time wouldn't indict for anything."
In his first public comments, Pantaleo said he prays for Garner's family and hopes they accept his condolences.
"I became a police officer to help people and to protect those who can't protect themselves," he said in the statement. "It is never my intention to harm anyone, and I feel very bad about the death of Mr. Garner."
Police union officials and Pantaleo's lawyer argued that the officer used a takedown move taught by the police department, not a banned maneuver, because Garner was resisting arrest. They said his poor health was the main reason he died
Garner's family scheduled a press conference with civil rights leader Al Sharpton for Wednesday night.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said that he spoke with Attorney General Eric Holder, who pledged that the federal government would investigate the matter and that local U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch would oversee it.
Shortly after The US Justice Department announced that it is opening a federal civil rights investigation into the death of Garner.
US Attorney General Eric Holder made the announcement Wednesday evening, i The investigation will consider whether or not police violated Garner's civil rights.
Prosecutors will conduct an independent, thorough, and fair investigation, Holder said, including a "complete review" of material gathered during the local investigation.
In order to bring charges against New York Police Department Officer Daniel Pantaleo, the Justice Department will need enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Garner's rights were violated, and that Pantaleo did so "willfully."