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DOJ Won’t Charge NYPD Officer in Eric Garner’s Death


The Department of Justice has announced that it will not bring charges against NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo for the July 17, 2014 death of Eric Garner, even though Pantaleo put Garner in a chokehold that resulted in a deadly asthma attack.

The chokehold, a medical examiner who performed the Garner autopsy testified in May, “would have compromised the neck and would have compromised the airway, making it difficult for [Garner] to breathe.”

“I can’t breathe,” Garner could be heard saying repeatedly in his dying moments — moments that were caught on video. Garner was suspected of illegally selling cigarettes that day. “I can’t breathe” went on to become a rallying cry for civil rights activists protesting police brutality against people of color.

Garner was 43.

While NYC paid out $5.9 million in a settlement with Garner’s family, Pantaleo has been on administrative duty (desk work) ever since Garner’s death. Wednesday will mark exactly five years since Garner’s death. The DOJ had to announce a decision ahead of the statute of limitations expiring, and they decided not to bring charges against Pantaleo.

As USA Today noted, a Staten Island jury previously arrived at the same decision.


[Image via CBS New York screengrab]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.