In coming to their decision the jury decided to clear Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who restrained Garner, 43, in July while trying to arrest him for trading in loose cigarettes.
The decision, which comes nine days after the Ferguson grand jury declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson, raises the specter of violence as already fraught racial tensions nationwide lead to more protests.
The death of the father-of-five sparked national outrage just weeks before the fatal shooting of Michael Brown amid accusations of police brutality against African Americans.
To date it has not been disclosed what charges the prosecutors had asked the grand jury to consider against Pantaleo and under New York law, an indictment must be agreed by at least 12 members of of the jury, which can number up to 25 people.
Although other officers were seen in video footage detaining Garner, it would only be Pantaleo who was brought forward to consider whether the officer’s actions amounted to criminal conduct and to what degree. A rendering that the Grand Jury overwhelmingly decided against.
In the hours since the release of the grand jury’s decision, Eric Garner’s widow Esaw Garner informed of the decision reacted with shock.
‘Oh my God, are you serious?’ said Esaw Garner to the newyorkdailynews.
‘I’m very disappointed. You can see in the video that he (the cop) was dead wrong!’
Cellphone footage from Garner’s arrest showed Pantaleo grappling with the larger man, ultimately placing his arms around his neck in a banned chokehold maneuvre.
On the ground, Garner could clearly be heard pleading, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’ as officers handcuffed him.
From there Garner would lose consciousness before being pronounced dead later that day at hospital.
Reiterated Esaw Garner: ‘The grand jury kept interviewing witnesses but you didn’t need witnesses,’
‘You can be a witness for yourself. Oh my God, this s— is crazy.’
The Medical Examiner’s Office would rule Garner’s death a homicide but police union members would deny Pantaleo used a chokehold.
The medical examiner concluded the chokehold was the cause of death.
Since this afternoon’s announcement, Officer Daniel Pantaleo issued a statement telling he was ‘very sad.’
Adding: ‘I 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.’
Pantaleo’s attorney, Stuart London would tell that his client testified for two hours in front of the grand jury on November 21.
Offered London at the time: ‘He was anxious and anxiety-filled prior to that,’
‘He is cautiously optimistic and knows that his fate is in their hands now.’
Jonathan Moore, an attorney for Garner’s family would offer statement in lieu of today’s decision not to indict Pantaleo: ‘I am actually astonished based on the evidence of the video tape, and the medical examiner, that this grand jury at this time wouldn’t indict for anything, is really just astonishing.’
The grand jury could have considered a range of charges, from murder to a lesser offense such as reckless endangerment.
Garner’s family plan a news conference later in the day with the Rev. Al Sharpton. The Staten Island District Attorney’s office didn’t immediately respond to press overtures. There was no immediate comment from Pantaleo’s attorney nor the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, a union that has strongly backed the officer.
And then there were these comments on the web that made me wonder as well:
I think, I could be wrong, that they didn’t call it a choke hold. The cops used a different name for it (headlock) which would be enough to confuse a jury.
If you resist arrest you’re opening yourself up to undue injury. This has always been the case- and should continue to be to dissuade suspects from assaulting officers.
You can compare this back to Rodney King– the fact is that he’s resisting, there’s no assault involved by police, and it’s impossible to prove excessive force because it required that force to get him to stop resisting. A Grand Jury has just reinforced a very simple rule: Do not resist arrest.
I am so fucking mad about this. All this indictment proves is that Cops can kill with impunity. I don’t hate cops. I know a lot of decent police officers, but I know some guys who are complete assholes who also happen to wear a badge. I don’t think cops should have a license to kill and have no fear of repercussions. Nothing Eric Garner did warranted the death penalty and if I see one more fucking cunt type “He should have complied,” on the internet I will scream. Not complying doesn’t give police the right to kill people! Accidentally or otherwise!
I’ll admit I thought the cop used justifiable force in the Mike Brown incident. This, however, was flat out murder. How it’s not even going to trial when the medical examiner declared it to be death by homicide is outrageous.
It’s broken it’s all broken.
Police unions love defending bad apples. Seriously, if they ever want the respect they keep demanding, then they need to clean house and not shelter murderers.
This is what upsets me about Michael Brown. Everyone wants to dismiss it because Michael Brown is not the perfect victim but the unrest was never about Michael Brown, he was just the straw that broke the camels back. It is years of this kind of shit that finally upsets a community so much that they speak out. By just saying Michael Brown was no angel, or that Garner should have complied or that Tamir Rice should not have been provoking people is so dismissive of ea real problem people are trying to highlight.
Welcome to the new America, where the media tries to make everything a race issue so we don’t realize it’s a police versus unarmed citizens issue.