RadioOnFire.com – The Justice Department will not bring federal charges against a New York City police officer over the death of Eric Garner during a chaotic arrest that ignited nationwide protests five years ago.
The decision, announced Tuesday by Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue, marks the end of a civil rights probe into an episode – much of it captured on video – that helped turn a national spotlight on how police officers use force against minorities.
“Like many of you, I have watched that video many times, and each time I’ve watched it, I’m left with the same reaction: that the death of Eric Garner was a tragedy,” Donoghue said. “The job of a federal prosecutor, however, is not to let our emotions dictate our decisions. Our job is to review the evidence gathered during the investigation, like the video, to assess whether we can prove that a federal crime was committed.”
Authorities spent years investigating Garner’s death in an examination that proved contentious both inside and outside of the Justice Department. Attorneys in the department’s Civil Rights Division long advocated for bringing a criminal charge, while prosecutors in Brooklyn recommended against it.
The city medical examiner listed Garner’s cause of death as “compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.” The officer’s lawyer, Stuart London, and the police union have denied that Pantaleo used a choke-hold maneuver banned by the NYPD.
The city paid a $5.9 million civil settlement to Garner’s family. Pantaleo has been assigned to administrative duty since Garner’s death.