No indictment for officer in Eric Garner chokehold death

Unarmed black man died in July as New York police tried to arrest him for illegally selling cigarettes

Protesters are arrested as more than a thousand people take to the streets of Midtown Manhattan to demonstrate against a grand jury decision not to press charges against a police officer who caused the death of an unarmed man. Video: Reuters

 

A New York City grand jury on Wednesday returned no indictment against a white police officer who used a chokehold on an unarmed black man who died as police tried to arrest him for illegally selling cigarettes, local media reported.

The grand jury in the city’s borough of Staten Island decided against criminal charges for New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner, according to NY1 television, the Daily News and other local media.

Deadly encounter

The deadly encounter on July 17th last was captured on a video that quickly spread over the internet and helped fuel debates about how US police use force, particularly against minorities.

The decision comes in the wake of a grand jury decision last week in Ferguson, Missouri, not to charge a white police officer in the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, which triggered violent protests.

“Please don’t tell me that,” said Cynthia Davis, a New York protest organiser, upon hearing the news. “I not going to believe it.”

Ms Davis, head of the National Action Network in Staten Island, declined to comment further.

An attorney for Mr Pantaleo could not be reached immediately to confirm the report.

A spokesman for Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan also could not be immediately reached.

There was no word of whether or what protests would be held upon news of the grand jury ruling.

Homicide ruling

Mr Garner’s death was ruled a homicide by the city medical examiner, who said police officers killed him by compressing his neck and chest. His health problems, including asthma and obesity, were contributing factors, the medical examiner said.

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the municipal police union, has maintained the officers involved in the case acted properly and within the scope of the law.

The police department’s patrol guide bans officers from using chokeholds, saying they can be deadly.

Reuters