It has been three years since that fatal July afternoon when Eric Garner was choked to death by officer Daniel Pantaleo in Staten Island.
Since then, the pursuit of justice has produced a mixed bag of results for the Garner family and a black community that continues to be disappointed with the justice system. But the cultural and political impact of his death has reverberated through the community in ways that is still being felt three years later.
Here is a review of the key moments since Garner’s death:
A New York City grand jury decided in December 2014 that it would not indict the police officer responsible for Garner’s death. The entire ordeal was caught on camera by a civilian bystander, but yet a grand jury did not think charges were necessary.
Their decision prompted days-long protests throughout the country.
The Garner estate was paid $5.9 million in July 2015 by New York City to settle damages related to his death.
“Following a judicious review of the claim and facts of this case, my office was able to reach a settlement with the estate of Eric Garner that is in the best interests of all parties,” said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, whose office was charged with settling claims against the city.
The Justice Department Intervenes
Last October, the DOJ intervened to replace the team of New York attorneys who had been handling the case. According to The New York Times, the decision came about amid reports that prosecutors for the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. disagreed with the findings of prosecutors and FBI investigators in NYC.
The investigation into the case continues under Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department. In late June, the deparment reached out to the Garner family to set up a meeting, Erica Garner said.
“I Can’t Breathe”
Garner’s appeal to be released from the chokehold was one that was heard around the world. His last words, “I Can't Breathe,” which he could be heard saying a total of 11 times during the encounter, became one of several signature slogans in the movement for justice against police brutality.
A Family Enters Politics
Garner’s family was unceremoniously blasted into the spotlight after his death, and have since used their platform for political advocacy. Garner’s daughter, Erica Garner, has become a vocal opponent of police brutality and violence. For example, she publicly criticized NYC mayor Bill De Blasio for the city's decision last September to enforce a law that prevents officers' disciplinary records from being available to the public.
Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, also joined other mothers of black men and women who were killed during police encounters, to endorse Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Erica Garner threw her support behind Bernie Sanders.
Pop Culture Impact
From music to television, art to film, Garner has become a pop culture juggernaut. His story is heard in song lyrics and referenced in scripts. Most recently, a fictional take of what could have happened had the case gone to trial is being made into a movie titled “American Trial”, according to the Hollywood Reporter
Also, a number celebrities — from J. Cole to Diddy — were vocal about the injustice surrounding Garner’s case.
R.I.P Eric Garner