By Frederick H. Lowe
A New York City police officer who used an illegal chokehold to kill Eric Garner as a black woman police sergeant supervisor watched and did nothing to stop the brutal assault, will not face federal charges in Garner’s violent death, the Justice Department announced today.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, made the decision not to charge officer Daniel Pantaleo for the July 17, 2014 killing of Garner, 43, by using what the NYPD said was an illegal chokehold. Garner, an asthmatic, repeatedly gasped, “I can’t breathe” as Pantaleo held him in his deadly grip.
The NYPD banned chokeholds in 1993, but the practice is not banned by New York City law.
Pantaleo, who has been assigned to desk duty since the killing, attempted to arrest Garner for selling loose cigarettes, or “loosies.” The cigarettes are not taxed. Garner pled with Pantaleo to leave him alone.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn recommended that Pantaleo not face federal charges. They argued that the chokehold lasted seven seconds, not enough, in the prosecutors’ minds, to cause harm.
However, Garner died, and Pantaleo recently married and received a pay raise.
The NYPD will soon announce if Pantaleo will remain with the department.
In 2015, the City of New York agreed to pay Garner’s family $5.9 million for his brutal death at the hands of Pantaleo.