No apparent threat to the half-dozen officers

So, we’re just going to keep doing this now?

A grand jury in Staten Island has decided not indict New York City Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo in relation to the death of Eric Garner.

That’s even though Pantaleo was seen on video putting Eric Garner in an apparent choke hold in July, according to city officials and lawyers for Garner’s family. An apparent choke hold that actually choked him to death. His last words were, “I can’t breathe.”


There is a federal investigation.

An official with the U.S. Department of Justice confirms there is a federal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Eric Garner.

Garner family attorney Jonathan Moored told the Associated Press that the family was “astonished” by the grand jury’s decision.

Garner, an unarmed black man, died July 17 after being placed in an apparent chokehold by a white New York City police officer. The incident was caught on tape, and shows that Garner was unarmed and posing no apparent threat to the half-dozen officers who surrounded him. After he was taken down in the chokehold by Officer David Pantaleo, other officers held him down. You can hear Garner on tape saying, “I can’t breathe.”

Bill Bramhall/New York Daily News



  1. says

    The choke hold in question was apparently illegal, too. And in NYC there is apparently no requirement to show intent to harm someone in order for the grand jury to indict the assailant. So: cop performs illegal attack on individual, no need to question whether it was meant to harm or not, individual dies. Yet no indictment, no charges.

  2. brett says

    But don’t worry! NYPD did manage to successfully arrest the person who took the video footage for illegal gun ownership (with the gun “recovered” by NYPD, of course), and when that fell apart they went after her for marijuana possession.

    What a bunch of bullshit. It gets worse, too, since if the officer is fired there’s a good chance he’ll be able to appeal it to an arbitrator and get his job back.

  3. says

    With both this case, Garner, and the Brown case, I hear bits on Twitter about what the grand jury got shown. It seems rather unclear how much of it is jurors being pro police and/or racist, and how much of it is the prosecutor and police really distorting the evidence the jurors are shown.

    A prosecutor told the Brown grand jury that it was legal for police to shoot fleeing suspects, even though that hasn’t been true for a couple of decades (but is still on the books in MO). Apparently at the last minute before deliberations she sorta tried to take it back, but was vague and evasive about just what was invalid about what they’d been told.

    I also heard a mention that in this Garner case that apparently the police testified he had not been put in a choke hold? Gotta wonder how that worked what with the video.

  4. says

    The choke hold in question was apparently illegal, too

    Coroner listed the cause of death as “homicide”
    The grand jury mis-read it as “suicide” apparently.

  5. Ray Moscow says

    I recently asked some martial-art friends who work for or are retired from the NYPD about this. They contend that the hold wasn’t an actual choke hold — which might be technically true (since most choke holds are worse, and there’s no speaking while they are applied). The main objection to this is that it sure looked like a choke hold to most observers, even if it might have been some other sort of neck restraint, and of course the terrible outcome of the restraint was that the guy died, which makes the technical aspect somewhat moot.
    When a non-violent person dies during an arrest, it seems reasonable to assume that excessive force was used.

  6. Crimson Clupeidae says

    At this point, maybe the grand juries are not indicting in order to facilitate massive social upheaval that we need to really make a difference?

    One can hope…..

  7. moarscienceplz says

    The Grand Jury system is simply the wrong thing to use in cases against peace officers. First, it is steered by a prosecutor who works closely with the police and thus has a conflict of interest. Second, there is nobody to represent the interests of the victims. Third, the jurors are required to commit much more time to a Grand Jury than they would for a normal jury, and thus tend to be old, successfully retired people who have had very little interaction with the police during their lives.
    We need another way to deal with this.

  8. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    For god’s sake, why are you using the perverse euphemism “peace officers”?

  9. busterggi says

    Cops have already switched from blue uniforms to black ones – why not go the rest of the way and wear badges shaped like skulls and just get it over with.

  10. moarscienceplz says

    From Wikipedia:

    A peace officer or law enforcement officer (LEO) in North America is any public-sector employee or agent whose duties primarily involve the enforcement of laws. The phrase can include police officers, special police officers/special sheriff deputies, corrections officers, customs officers, state troopers, special agents, special investigators, immigration officers, court bailiffs, probation officers, parole officers, arson investigators, auxiliary officers, and sheriffs, marshals, and their deputies. Security guards are not normally law enforcement officers, unless they have been granted powers to enforce particular laws, such as those accredited under a Community Safety Accreditation Scheme.
    Modern legal codes use the term peace officer (or in some jurisdictions, law enforcement officer) to include every person vested by the legislating state with law-enforcement authority—traditionally, anyone “sworn, badged, and armable” who can arrest, or refer such arrest for a criminal prosecution. Hence, city police officers, county sheriffs’ deputies, and state troopers are usually vested with the same authority within a given jurisdiction.

    A euphemism it may be, but it is also a legal term with a specific definition that encompasses more than just the police.

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