Eric Garner's Death
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Eric Garner was a 43-year-old Staten Island man who died after being placed in a choke-hold by the officers of the New York Police Department in July 2014.
On July 17th, 2014, Eric Garner, a New York City father of six children and a 400 pound asthmatic man, was put into a choke-hold after apparently breaking up a fight outside a local storefront in Staten Island. Five New York Police Department officers surrounded the father and then forced him onto the ground, while the man continually shouted "I can't breathe." Eric Garner died shortly thereafter. On the following day, a video clip of the police action at the scene taken by Taisha Allen was uploaded to YouTube (shown below).
Garner suffered from numerous medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and sleep apnea. Whether or not these factors played a role in his death is unclear. Following Garner’s death, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the event a terrible tragedy and spoke out against widespread use of excessive force in the police force. Meanwhile, many of Garner's associates and bystanders at the scene decried racial profiling as he had been previously targeted by the police for selling "untaxed cigarettes." According to the NYPD departmental policy, use of the chokehold is prohibited.
In just two days, the initial video quickly went viral and garnered over 300,000 views and 1,000 comments on the hotly discussed issue of police brutality. Soon after the death, Internet forums such as 4chan and Reddit, along with websites of many online news sources and Facebook began to spread the event, resulting in more rallies in Staten Island and Harlem. A change.org petition to further punish the offending officers was also launched in the days following the event.
In the wake of Garner's death and the subsequent public protests, Mayor de Blasio spoke out once more on July 19th, vowing to "Change the NYPD for good" He followed by saying "I watched it as a family member would watch it, and it was very sad to watch." Some have criticized the Mayor and the NYPD for being what they see as a slap on the wrist on the police officers involved at the scene, citing much harsher measures being taken in a virtually identical case from 1994, in which NYPD officer Francis Levoti was convicted by a federal jury for placing a man who later died in a choke-hold.
On July 21st, 2014, four emergency medical technicians and paramedics who responded were placed on suspension without pay, while two NYPD officers involved in Garner's death, Justin Damico and Daniel Pantaleo, were placed on desk duty, with the latter stripped of his service gun and badge.
Reverend Al Sharpton's Rally
Local reverend Al Sharpton organized a rally against police brutality in honor of Eric on the following Saturday, July 19th. Eric's family and close friends stood nearby, including his widow, Esaw Garner. Sharpton later held a vigil for Eric as well, hoping that leaders in the community will see that change needs to be made, and soon.
The day after the first video was posted to YouTube, another video detailing the aftermath of Eric's death was uploaded. In the video, several police officers are seen searching Eric's corpse, removing a pack of cigarettes and a cell phone before placing him on a stretcher. Nowhere in the video do any of them try to help or resuscitate Eric who appears to be unconscious.
News Media Coverage
In the days following the incident several media outlets covered the unfortunate event, including noteworthy sites such as CBS News, USA Today, Vice, Fox News, Business Insider, and ABC News, among others.
Grand Jury Hearing
In late October 2014, a county grand jury was convened in Staten Island, New York to hear evidence and deliberate whether to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer who placed Garner on chokehold on that day. On December 3rd, 2014, only a week after the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri decided to not to file any charges against the police officer who fatally shot local teenager Michael Brown, New York District Attorney Dan Donovan announced that the grand jury has cleared Officer Pantaleo of charges for using the chokehold tactic implicated in Garner’s death. That same day, demonstrators gathered for a “die-in” at Grand Central station in Manhattan, where they laid down on the ground in protest of the grand jury decision (shown below).
That evening, United States President Barack Obama addressed the grand jury decision during the Tribal Nations Conference held at the White House (shown below).
“And as I said, when I met with folks both from Ferguson and from law enforcement and clergy and civil rights activists, I said this is an issue we’ve been dealing with for too long, and its time for us to make more progress than we’ve made. And I’m not interested in talk, I’m interested in action, and I am absolutely committed as President of the United States to making sure that we have a country in which everybody believes in the core principle that we are equal under the law.”
Meanwhile, New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand called on the Justice Department to launch a Federal investigation into the matter.
On July 16th, 2019, the United States Justice Department announced that federal charges would not be brought against Daniel Pantaleo, following a five-year-long inquiry, and one day before the deadline to decide whether to bring charges passed, according to the New York Times. CNN reports that U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue stated that there was "insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Pantaleo acted 'willfully' in violation of the federal criminal civil rights act."
Attorney General William Barr sided with the decision, asserting that federal civil rights charges would not be brought against the officer.
In a statement outside the courthouse, Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, vowed to "keep pushing" for justice (shown below).
WATCH: Eric Garner's mother reacts to no federal charges for NYPD officer in fatal chokehold: "You could push back, but we’re gonna push forward, this is not the end." https://t.co/5X2QK640kT pic.twitter.com/1EOiT7cKlt
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 16, 2019
Additionally, Carr tweeted the phrase "This is not the end" several times on Twitter, where it received more than 2,300 likes and 690 retweets in 24 hours (shown below, left).
Others shared their surprise and outrage with the decision. Presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted, "This is an injustice. We have a responsibility to protect our citizens--and to hold police accountable when they fail. No one is safe in a country with a broken criminal justice system. My heart goes out to Eric Garner's family today." The tweet received more than 10,000 likes and 2,600 retweets in 24 hours (shown below, center). Presidential candidate Senator Cory Booker tweeted, "This decision is wrong, unjust and painful reminder of just how broken our criminal justice system is. Eric Garner should be alive today. I pray his loved ones can find peace." The tweet received more than 4,000 likes and 1,000 retweets in 24 hours (shown below, right).
Article on Ramsey Orta
On March 13, 2019, The Verge published an article on Ramsey Orta, the indivudial who filmed the police killing of Eric Garner. The article goes into detail regarding the poor treatment the police gave to Ramsey, including target harassment and attempted poisoning. On December 25, 2019, @HenryKrinkIe tweeted about the article saying "Prison guards tried to poison the guy who filmed Eric Garner's murder by NYPD by putting rat poison in his meatloaf". The tweet garnered over 17,000 retweets and over 29,000 likes.
 Newsday – Eric Garner Dies After Chokehold
 Youtube – Black Man "Eric Garner" Killed by Police
 NY Times – Staten Island Man Dies After Chokehold
 CBS News – Rally Held for NYC Man Who Died after Police Chokehold
 USA Today – Officer in fatal NYC arrest stripped of gun, badge
 Vice – Eric Garner and the Plague of Police Brutality Against Black Men
 Fox News – Eric Garner Death
 NY Daily News – Death of dad of 6 after police put him in chokehold
 Christian Monitor – Minor Crime Questioning Leads to Death
 NY Daily News – Rev. Sharpton calls death of Staten Island man a "test" for Mayor de Blasio
 Newsday – Death after fatal choke hold will test de Blasio's vow to change NYPD
 ABC News – Cop in chokehold death loses badge, gun
 Business Insider – Death during agressive arrest
 Reddit – Results for "Eric Garner"
 Change.org – Bring the Police officers responsible for the death of Eric Garner to justice
 Twitter – @SenSchumer
 Twitter – @SenGillibrand
 The New York Times – Eric Garner’s Death Will Not Lead to Federal Charges for N.Y.P.D. Officer
 CNN – Prosecutors say they could not prove NYPD officer acted willfully in Eric Garner's death
 CNN – Barr sides against civil rights officials in declining to bring charges against NYPD officer in Garner case
 Twitter – @RealGwenCarr's Tweet
 Twitter – @ewarren's Tweet
 Twitter – @CoryBooker's Tweet
 The Verge – Ramsey Orta filmed the killing of Eric Garner, so the police punished him
 Twitter – "@HenryKrinkIe's Tweet ":https://twitter.com/HenryKrinkIe/status/1209997530685231105
Jul 19, 2014 at 10:54AM EDT
Dec 03, 2014 at 06:53PM EST
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