Two years after an NYPD cop was caught on video holding down an unarmed black man in a choke hold while he gasped “I can’t breathe”, the Justice Department is close to bringing charges.
According to the New York Post, who has an anonymous source within the DOJ, charges are going to be brought against Daniel Pantaleo “sooner than later” and that “Washington wants to indict.”
Prosecutors are planning on charging NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo with civil rights violations in Garner’s death.
Pantaleo has been accused of putting Garner in a fatal chokehold that was previously banned by the NYPD. He claims that the chokehold was accidental.
Garner’s death helped spur the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement, and his famous last words, “I can’t breathe” have been chanted over and over at protests and rallies across the country.
The plan to charge Pantaleo has been approved by Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
The charges have been a long time coming. Local federal investigators, as well as state prosecutors, originally conducted their own investigations and refused to bring any charges against Pantaleo. Federal investigators in Brooklyn were replaced by others in D.C. after they refused to bring charges in the case.
On one side, advocates for Black Lives Matter say that the Obama administration has been stalling, stating “It increasingly seems like Obama, Lynch and this administration, for all of their rhetoric about police brutality, aren’t seriously committed to holding officers like Pantaleo accountable.”
On the other side, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association says that the Justice Department is on a “fishing expedition” and is just trying to make a public example of Pantaleo.
Eric Garner died in 2014 after being approved by NYPD officers for selling untaxed cigarettes. Officer Daniel Pantaleo attempted to take Garner’s arm around his back, and when he resisted Pantaleo put his arm around Garner’s neck, placing him in chokehold and forcing him to the ground. Other officers moved to restrain Garner as his face was pressed to the ground and he repeatedly stated, “I can’t breathe.” Garner lost consciousness and was pronounced dead at the hospital an hour later. The nEw York City Medical Examiner’s Officer attributed his death to a combination of a chokehold, compression of his chest, and poor health.