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.
During the fatal encounter July 17 on Staten Island, Garner raised both hands in the air and told the officers not to touch him. Seconds later, a video shows officer Daniel Pantaleo grab Garner in a chokehold from behind and pull him to the sidewalk, rolling him onto his stomach.”I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” Garner said repeatedly, his death was later ruled a homicide.
The grand jury was made up of 14 white and nine nonwhite members, according to law enforcement sources. A total of 12 jurors who have heard all the evidence must be in agreement for a decision. The grand jury found that there was no “reasonable cause” to indict.
On New York City’s West Side Highway, a group of protesters stood face to face with rows of police officers, shouting, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.”
“This fight ain’t over. It 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. Garner’s mother, who spoke alongside his widow, said she was disappointed by the grand jury’s decision. She called for calm.
“We want you to rally, but rally in peace. Make a statement, but make it in peace,” said Gwen Carr.
They marched at the same time U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, announced that federal officials were moving ahead with a civil rights investigation.
President Barack Obama said the Garner case reflected a longtime “concern on the part of too many minority communities that law enforcement is not working with them, and dealing with them in a fair way . . .We are not going to let up until we see a strengthening of the trust, and a strengthening of the accountability that exists between our communities and our law enforcement,” he said
Pantaleo, according to a statement from his union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, “became a police officer to help people and to protect those who can’t protect themselves. It is never my intention to harm anyone and I feel very bad about the death of Mr. Garner. My family and I include him and his family in our prayers and I hope that they will accept my personal condolences for their loss.”