New York — Protesters poured onto the streets of New York late Wednesday, upset over a grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner.
They marched at the same time U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that federal officials were moving ahead with a civil rights investigation.
The fatal encounter in July was captured on video and seen around the world. But after viewing the footage and hearing from witnesses, including the officer who used the chokehold, a defensive tactic move that is banned by New York Police Departments, the jurors deliberated for less than a day before deciding that there was not enough evidence to go forward with charges against the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, 29, in the death of the man, Eric Garner, 43.
Police said that the public could not rely on a short video clip; however, the actual video is 14-minutes long.
“This fight ain’t over. It’s just begun. I’m determined to get justice for my husband because he shouldn’t have been killed in that way. He shouldn’t have been killed in any way,” said Esaw Garner, his widow.
“He should be here, celebrating Christmas and Thanksgiving and everything else, with his children and his grandchildren. And he can’t. Why? Because a cop did wrong. Somebody that gets paid to do right did wrong and he’s not held accountable for it. But my husband’s death will not be in vain. As long as I have a breath in my body I will fight the fight till the end.”
Esaw Garner, said she did not accept the officer’s apology.
“Hell, no; the time for remorse for the death of my husband was when he was yelling to breathe,” she said. While she mourns, the officer can go home to his family, she said.
Even more disturbing to the family is the fact that Officer Pantaleo has had two other law suits filed against him for the same issue. One lawsuit was thrown out in 2013 and the other remains open.
Protesters gathered at various points in Manhattan, including Times Square and Union Square, marching peacefully north as crowds formed near Rockefeller Center for the lighting of the Christmas tree. Columbus Circle was blocked for quite some time.
Rep. Peter King, R-New York, said he is glad the officer was not indicted. He said Garner died because he was obese and had a heart condition. He also denied the officer held Garner in a chokehold. King said, “It is not against the law to use the chokehold.” However, the NYPD strictly forbids it, except in life or death situations.
“The police had no reason to know he was in serious condition,” King said. “You had a 350-pound person who was resisting arrest. The police were trying to bring him down as quickly as possible. If he had not had asthma and a heart condition and was so obese, almost definitely he would not have died.”
“People were saying that he said seven times, ‘I can’t breathe.’ But if you can’t breathe, you can’t talk,” King said. “So police hear that all the time.”
King also defended the officer’s decision to use the chokehold as an arrest procedure, contradicting his previous statements that the officer did not use the chokehold.
President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he and outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder are “not going to let up” in the effort to solve the problem of racial tensions that exists between law enforcement officers and minorities in communities nationwide. President Obama said law enforcement must be held accountable for their actions.
The last officer in New York to be found not guilty for using a chokehold and killing a man, was later sentenced to seven years in prison after the Department of Justice launched a federal civil rights investigation.
Many are hoping that will be the turnout for Officer Pantaleo.
The protest in New York has been peaceful, leaders said protesters in Ferguson should take lessons on the proper way to organize a protest.
Leaders said, “Despite Garner’s previous arrests, he was basically killed for selling loose cigarettes to put food on his table.”
One New York rep said, “We have politicians in this country that break the law every day, yet they never see the inside of a jail cell, are never harassed by police, or put in a chokehold.”
New York Rep. Charlie Rangel also said at a press conference that he hopes the Justice Department will “take this cancer (meaning police brutality) and cut it out once and for all.”
The medical examiners report states that Garner died from compression to the throat (chokehold) and chest, and “prone positioning during apparent physical restraint.” In layman’s terms, Garner’s chest was compressed to the point where he could not breathe while he was already on the ground in prone position. The medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide. There was no mention of heart attack in the reports obtained by Ocala Post.
Ramsey Orta, the man that shot the video of Garner being killed by police said, “I have been harassed by police everyday since I released the video.” He also said the video that police are showing media, is not the full video. He said the video was shortened, but he provided the full length video to actor and director, Spike Lee. Spike Lee confirmed that he is in possession of the video. It is unclear what Spike Lee intends to do with it.