Eric Garner: Civil rights prosecutors ‘recommend charging police officer over death'

Mr Garner's final words 'I can't breathe' became rallying cry for Black Lives Matter 

Jeremy B. White
San Francisco
Friday 20 April 2018 20:50
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Eric Garner's widow Esaw Garner speaks at a rally near the Brooklyn courthouse
Eric Garner's widow Esaw Garner speaks at a rally near the Brooklyn courthouse

Federal civil rights prosecutors have reportedly recommended charging the police officer involved in the 2014 killing of Eric Garner.

The Department of Justice is now weighing whether to pursue charges against Daniel Pantaleo, according to multiple reports, a New York City police officer who in 2014 placed Mr Garner in a chokehold after confronting him for selling untaxed cigarettes.

Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein has held multiple meetings in which participants disagreed about how to proceed, according to the New York Times.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

With his dying words of “I can’t breathe” as he struggled in Mr Pantaleo’s grip, Mr Garner - who was unarmed - became a symbol of the Black Lives Matter movement and its campaign against police brutality.

A focus of that activism has been the difficulty of convicting police officers who use lethal force on suspects.

In 2014, a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict Mr Pantaleo, setting off a wave of protests. Just over a week earlier, a Missouri grand jury brought no criminal charges against the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson.

Eric Holder announces investigation into Eric Garner death

As video of police killings has become commonplace, prosecutors have come under deeper scrutiny for their decisions about whether to pursue criminal cases.

In California, where anger has surged after police officers shot and killed Stephon Clark in his grandparents’ Sacramento backyard (Mr Clark was unarmed), legislators have introduced a bill that would make it easier to bring charges against officers who use lethal force.

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