Eric Garner Case: Protests Erupt After Grand Jury Declines to Charge Daniel Pantaleo

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A grand jury decided not to charge officer Daniel Pantaleo with a crime stemming from the death of Eric Garner this year, triggering protests throughout New York City.

The obvious parallels between Garner, Pantaleo, the death of Michael Brown and the Ferguson, Mo., grand jury subsequently not charging Darren Wilson are striking.

In this case, the NYPD officer used a choke hold on an unarmed black man led to his death, a decision that drew condemnation from elected officials and protests.

The fatal encounter in July was captured on videos and seen around the world, but the grand jury felt there was not enough evidence to go forward with charges.

Garner was just 43 years old.

Pantaleo, who has been on the force for eight years, appeared before the grand jury last month, testified that he did not intend to choke the suspect.

Garner, who was being arrested for allegedly selling loose cigarettes, was not in mortal danger in the officer's mind when he performed his "takedown move."

Jurors were shown three videos of the encounter, and in his testimony Pantaleo sought to characterize his actions as a maneuver taught at the Police Academy.

He said that while holding onto Garner, he felt fear that they would crash through a plate glass storefront as they tumbled to the ground, said attorney Stuart London.

The force he used ended up being lethal. One of the officer’s arms went around Garner’s throat, as Garner repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.”

After the news from Staten Island, a wave of elected officials renewed calls for Justice Department action, and the DOJ said it would open a civil rights inquiry.

On the streets of the city, from Tompkinsville to Times Square, many expressed outrage, as the public did with Ferguson protests just a few weeks ago.

The police in New York and other cities reported few arrests, a stark contrast to the riots that unfolded in Ferguson in the hours after that grand jury decision.

President Obama, speaking in Washington, said the decisions highlight the frustrations that many African-Americans have harbored about the legal system.

“When anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law, that is a problem,” Obama said, “and it’s my job as president to help solve it.”

Officer Pantaleo, 9, said in statement on Wednesday that he felt “very bad about the death of Mr. Garner,” just as he had told the 23 panelists of the grand jury.

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