The New York police officer who put Eric Garner in a fatal chokehold during an attempted arrest in 2014, fueling the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, will not face federal criminal charges, the top federal prosecutor in Brooklyn said on Tuesday. Loretta Lynch, who was the USA attorney in Brooklyn (and who would succeed Holder as attorney general), disagreed, though attorneys with the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division under Lynch recommended charges.
Donoghue announced the decision not to charge Pantaleo after meeting with Garner's family, but the news was reported in the media beforehand, angering advocates.
The Justice Department's decision drew immediate criticism. Ultimately, he said, the government concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prove that Pantaleo willfully used unreasonable force, the standard required for a federal charge.
A New York grand jury in 2014 declined to charge Pantaleo, who has been assigned to desk duty since Garner's death and faced a disciplinary trial in May at New York City Police Department headquarters.
Garner's repeated plea of "I can't breathe" before he fell unconscious become a rallying cry for civil and social rights activists, leading to more national discussions on police reform. The final decision will then be made by NYPD Commissioner James P. O'Neill.
A news conference was planned after with the Rev. Al Sharpton, and they were expected to address the outcome.
"While willfulness may be inferred from blatantly wrongful conduct, such as a gratuitous kick to the head, an officer's mistake, fear, misperception, or even poor judgment does not constitute willful conduct under federal criminal civil rights law", Donoghue said.
"It doesn't do a lot", Garner's mother said of Pantaleo's possible firing.
"Five years after Eric Garner was placed in a banned chokehold in clear violation of NYPD policy, and said "I can´t breathe" eleven times on video, his family still can't get justice", she said. "America has watched Eric Garner die a million times over", said Newsome. But union officials and lawyers for Daniel Pantaleo call it a "seatbelt hold", a takedown maneuver that is taught to rookies while at the academy.
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The decision to not pursue the charges against the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, came after a dispute between the teams, the official said.
Federal prosecutors won't bring civil rights charges against a New York City police officer in the 2014 chokehold death of Eric Garner. "Five years ago, my son said "I can't breathe" 11 times".
A de Blasio spokeswoman said the police commissioner is expected to decide by August 31 whether Pantaleo will be fired.
"This is a travesty of justice", Gupta said in a statement.
Prosecutors met with Garner's family and their advisers Tuesday morning ahead of announcing the decision, which leaked about 90 minutes beforehand.
London has defended Pantaleo during his disciplinary proceeding, which has been prosecuted by the CCRB.
Pantaleo initially tried to use two approved restraint tactics on Garner, much larger at 6-foot-2 and about 400 pounds, but ended up wrapping his arm around Garner's neck "in what was, in effect, a chokehold" for about seven seconds as they struggled against a glass storefront window and fell to the sidewalk, Donoghue said.
The department says O'Neill is still awaiting a report from the administrative judge overseeing Pantaleo's departmental hearing.