The Police Officer Who Killed Eric Garner Will Officially Not Be Charged With Any Crimes

NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo in 2019.

Five years after Eric Garner died gasping, “I can’t breathe,” the Department of Justice announced it will not press federal charges against the NYPD officer who placed him in a chokehold.

DOJ officials had until the anniversary of Garner’s death on Wednesday to file charges against Officer Daniel Pantaleo, before the statute of limitations ran out.

The DOJ said that their investigation determined there was “insufficient evidence” to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Pantaleo violated federal criminal civil rights acts for his role in Garner’s death.

“When we evaluated Officer Pantaleo’s actions in light of his training and experience, Mr. Garner’s size and weight and actions to resist arrest in the duration and escalating nature of the interaction, we determined that there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Pantaleo acted in willful violation of federal law,” Richard P. Donoghue, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

In 2018, city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board filed administrative charges against Pantaleo. An NYPD disciplinary trial to see if the officer should lose his job or face other punishments for his role in Garner’s death — a chokehold is prohibited by NYPD policy — ended in June, but a ruling has not yet been made.

Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, speaks in July 2014.

For years, members of Garner’s family, particularly his mother Gwen Carr, have fought for justice and for NYPD officers to be held accountable.

When a grand jury decided in December 2014 not to indict Pantaleo on criminal charges, protests were held across the country for multiple nights. Garner’s last words, “I can’t breathe,” turned into a rallying cry in the Black Lives Matter movement.

After the grand jury’s decision in 2014, the possibility remained for a federal case, if authorities found cause that Pantaleo violated Garner’s civil rights. That possibility ended on Tuesday.

More on this

  • Four Years Ago The NYPD Killed My Son. I’m Still Waiting For Justice.Gwen Carr · Oct. 12, 2018

  • Amber Jamieson is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

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