The NYPD cop who placed Black father of five, Eric Garner, in the fatal chokehold that ultimately claimed his life may not be off the hook after all.
Although a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in December 2014 – despite video evidence showing Pantaleo violently tackling Garner to the ground and placing him in the chokehold that killed him – the Justice Department apparently has other plans. According to the New York Times, it was revealed earlier this week that the DOJ has intervened to replace the team of New York attorneys who have been handling the case up to this point, in an effort to get the government back on track to pursue criminal charges against Pantaleo.
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The decision came about amid reports that prosecutors for the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. adamantly disagree with the findings of prosecutors and FBI investigators in NYC, who opposed bringing charges against the officer. Like most who have seen the disturbing video footage, the D.C. prosecutors feel there is indeed sufficient evidence to move forward with legal action against Pantaleo and continue working towards justice for Garner's death.
Garner was 43 years old when he was killed by Officer Pantaleo during an arrest for selling cigarettes outside of a Staten Island convenience store in July 2014. Garner's 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 in the wake of continued killings of African-Americans at the hands of police.
Officer Pantaleo was stripped of his badge and gun in the days following Garner's death and has remained on desk duty as the investigation into the incident continues.