Eric Garner : What happened to our anger over police violence?


Eric Garner
Eric Garner

source: The Week
published: 18 May 2019

“Justice delayed is justice denied,” the legal maxim holds, but what about justice dragged out and administered piecemeal, bureaucratized and monetized and extended well past the public’s capacity to maintain its righteous anger? What about justice delayed so long that it is no longer demanded?

This summer will mark five years since Eric Garner died after a New York City police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, put him in a chokehold while attempting to arrest him for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes. The strangling move was prohibited under NYPD rules. Garner was unarmed and begging for his life with a plea, “I can’t breathe!” that would become a rallying cry for the nascent Black Lives Matter movement.

The struggle that led to his death was caught on camera. The medical examiner’s office ruled it a homicide and specifically cited Pantaleo’s neck-compressing restraint as the cause of death.

And yet a grand jury declined to indict. Pantaleo faced no criminal charges. He was not fired, merely moved to desk duty, pulling a six-figure salary. The City of New York settled a civil suit with the Garner family, and taxpayers funded a $5.9 million payout. The Department of Justice launched an independent probe in December of 2014, but any conclusions it has reached have not been made public. Garner’s daughter, Erica, died awaiting federal civil rights charges that have yet to materialize.

That just leaves the NYPD’s departmental trial of Pantaleo, which began this week. About halfway through as of this writing, the hearings have included some damning moments.

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