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No Federal Charges in Eric Garner's Death: Reports

Justice Department won't go after NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 16, 2019 10:21 AM CDT
New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo leaves his house in Staten Island, NY, on May 13, 2019.   (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, File)
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(Newser) – The Justice Department will not bring federal charges in the 2014 death of Eric Garner at the hands of a New York City police officer, reports the New York Times, USA Today, and CNN. Daniel Pantaleo will not face criminal or civil rights charges in the case that ignited protests over police brutality and turned "I can't breathe" into a protest theme. Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, uttered the phrase numerous times as he was apprehended on a Staten Island sidewalk on July 17, 2014. He had been accused of selling loose cigarettes. A medical examiner said pressure on Garner’s neck and chest triggered a fatal asthma attack during an NYPD disciplinary trial that wrapped last month. This week marks the five-year anniversary of the death, the deadline by which charges would need to be filed.

Two police officials said Pantaleo likely violated department rules on the use of a chokehold. Pantaleo's attorney argues he used an approved technique known as the seatbelt maneuver. Per CNN, he has also said "Garner died from being morbidly obese." Pantaleo still faces potential disciplinary action from the NYPD, including the possible loss of his job. Commissioner James O'Neill will make that decision when the judge in the disciplinary hearing issues her verdict. Pantaleo has been on desk duty since Garner's death, which together with the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., helped launch the Black Lives Matter movement. The Times describes Garner's family—which received a $5.9 million civil settlement—as furious that no charges will be brought. (Read more Eric Garner stories.)

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