The New York Police Department officer who applied the illegal chokehold that killed Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York will not face federal charges, NBC News reports.
After concluding its five-year investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice said it will not seek civil rights or criminal charges against officer Daniel Pantaleo. The officer was seen on video wrapping his arm around Garner’s throat after selling loose cigarettes on the streets of the Staten Island borough in New York City.
Garner uttered at least 11 times, “I can’t breathe,” but Pantaleo kept the tight grip around his windpipe until his life spilled out of him on the sidewalk. That phrase became a rallying cry by tens of thousands who protested against chronic police brutality.
The medical examiner later ruled Garner’s death a homicide that was caused by asphyxiation from Pantaleo’s chokehold.
The decision not to prosecute Pantaleo was made by the head of the Justice Department, U.S. Attorney General Barr.
However, according to sources within the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department who spoke to NBC News, charges could have been filed against Pantaleo. He applied a chokehold that has been outlawed by the NYPD. But Pantaleo argued, successfully it might be added, he applied the “seatbelt” maneuver on Garner.
Pantaleo’s lawyer also said Garner had asthma and that played a major part in his own death.
Garner’s daughter, Emerald, was “very angry” over the decision to exonerate Pantaleo.
“Five years later, and there’s still no justice,” she said, according to NBC News. “Don’t apologize to me, fire the officer.”
Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, said the Justice Department “has failed us.”
“My son said ‘I can’t breathe’ 11 times and today we can’t breathe because they have let us down,” she said. “We’re asking the commissioner to make the right decision. Officer Pantaleo and all the officers involved in my son’s death that day need to be off the force.”