By Julissa Catalan
Another police officer has been let off the hook for a racially charged killing.
Nearly two weeks after a St. Louis grand jury declined to indict Ferguson, Mo., Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown, a Staten Island grand jury has also refused to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.
Garner’s death on July 17 caused nationwide outrage after the confrontation between him and Pataleo was captured on video and passed on to media.
The argument between the two began when officers confronted Garner over selling untaxed loose cigarettes. Quickly, the interaction turned violent as officers pinned Garner down while pressing his face to the sidewalk.
On the recording, Garner—who was Black, unarmed, overweight and asthmatic—can be heard repeatedly saying, ‘I can’t breathe,’ before losing consciousness.
Excessive force—which includes chokeholds—is against the NYPD code.
On Aug. 1, the city medical examiner determined that Garner died as a result of compression of the neck—by a chokehold—as well as compression of his chest while he was being held to the ground by police.
According to NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, the New York City police force has been preparing for the grand-jury decision—particularly in light of the protests following the decision in Ferguson.
Bratton said the NYPD “will naturally gear up to deal with any potential contingency that might occur. We, as you might expect, are planning accordingly.”
“We had teams of detectives [in Ferguson] from our intelligence unit. … A number of those arrested were from New York. So to kind of keep an eye on them, but also see what new tactics might be employed by the agitators, professional agitators, to gather what we could and bring it back to our experience to try to prevent it,” Bratton told CBS News.
The no-indictment decision means that no criminal charges will be brought against Pataleo, but Bratton said the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is still investigating the incident, and civil or federal charges could still be brought.
Pantaleo testified in front of the jury, which was made up of 23 Staten Island residents.
Pantaleo’s partner, Justin D’Amico, who was present during the confrontation, also testified, but only after being granted immunity from prosecution.
Garner’s family, meanwhile, has already revealed plans to file a wrongful-death lawsuit against the NYPD for $75 million.