Another US grand jury reprieve for white police officer

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Dec 04, 2014 20:14 IST

Another US grand jury has declined to indict another white police officer for killing a black man triggering a fresh round of protests around the country, mostly peaceful so far.

A New York grand jury on Wednesday decided there was not enough evidence to try the officer for causing the death of a man placed in chokehold during arrest in June.

Eric Garner, the 43-year-old African American, was seen gasping for air in a video that sparked outrage at the time, and telling police officers he couldn’t breathe.
The officer, Daniel Pantaleo, will not be tried, just as Ferguson's Darren Wilson, who won a reprieve from a grand jury in the killing of African American teen Michael Brown.

President Barack Obama led the national outrage saying minority communities believe “law enforcement is not working with them and dealing with them in a fair way”.
But, he added, “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 has set up a task force, after Ferguson, to recommend ways to improve law enforcement’s dealings with people from minority communities.

Garner, a father of six, was selling loose cigarettes — illegally — at the Staten Island ferry service, when a bunch of police officers in plainclothes swooped down on him.

He appears to have resisted in the video secretly recorded of his arrest. Taller and bigger than the officers encircling him, he was subdued with some difficulty.
One of the officers actually used the banned chokehold on him.

“I can’t breathe,” Garner said to his captors, imploring them to loosen the hold. They didn’t evidently.

He died, according to the autopsy report, of “compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police”.

Protestors took to the streets in New York and in other cities as word got out about the grand jury’s decision to not indict Officer Pantaleo. But they were largely peaceful unlike in Ferguson.

Holding placards saying “Black lives matter”, as in Ferguson, some protestors chanted, “I can’t breathe”, words Garner was seen using in the video 11 times.

They also held up their arms in a gesture of protest that has caught on since Ferguson, chanting, “Hands up, don’t shoot”, which, some believe, Brown had done facing officer Wilson.

Football players used the gesture before the start of a National Football League game last Sunday, and African American lawmakers followed up in the House of Representatives.

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