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Report: Justice Department Pushing to Charge Policeman Who Killed Eric Garner

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 19:55
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  This video still from footage of Eric Garner’s July 17, 2014 arrest shows NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo putting Garner in a chokehold in Staten Island, New York City. (YouTube

It has taken more than two years and three months, but Daniel Pantaleo, the New York policeman responsible for putting Eric Garner in a fatal chokehold on Staten Island on July 17, 2014 may soon be indicted.

The New York Post broke the story on Tuesday, citing a “law enforcement source” who told the paper that federal investigators from Washington, D.C. had supplanted a Brooklyn-based team to expedite the process and to ensure Pantaleo is indicted.

According to the Post, this swap-out didn’t sit well with the local authorities:

The New York feds are privately seething. They accused their Beltway colleagues of trying to “make an example out of Pantaleo” at any cost, said one source familiar with the case. “We already … came to a conclusion which they didn’t like. It’s truly disgraceful what they’re doing,” the source said.

As President Obama’s time in office runs out, his administration could well be pushing for resolution in a high-profile case that has been held up by Garner’s supporters and members of the Black Lives Matter movement as emblematic of the violence inflicted on African Americans by police around the country.

Garner, 43, had been arrested more than 30 times and had filed a complaint alleging abusive treatment by the NYPD. He was in the process of being arrested again on charges of illegally selling cigarettes when Pantaleo, then 29, put him in a chokehold, flouting a department-wide ban on that maneuver, and brought him to the ground. Garner, who was asthmatic, was heard saying “I can’t breathe” repeatedly before an ambulance arrived, and he was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

Garner’s neighborhood friend Ramsay Orta captured the altercation on video, which quickly went viral and turned “I can’t breathe” into a rallying cry at nationwide protests against police brutality.

The Justice Department launched its own investigation into Garner’s case on Dec. 3, 2014, just after a Richmond County grand jury decided not to charge Pantaleo. Kizzy Adonis, a sergeant on the scene of Garner’s arrest, was charged last January with failure to supervise and stripped of her badge and gun.

—Posted by Kasia Anderson

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