Justice Department to open civil rights investigation in Eric Garner case
Published time: December 03, 2014 23:29
Edited time: December 04, 2014 00:57
The US Justice Department announced that it is opening a federal civil rights investigation into the death of Eric Garner, who was killed by a chokehold at the hands of police.
US Attorney General Eric Holder made the announcement Wednesday evening, in the wake of a grand jury decision not to indict the police officer responsible for placing Garner in a chokehold. The investigation will consider whether or not police violated Garner’s civil rights.
Prosecutors will conduct an independent, thorough, and fair investigation, Holder said, including a “complete review” of material gathered during the local investigation.
In order to bring charges against New York Police Department Officer Daniel Pantaleo, the Justice Department will need enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Garner’s rights were violated, and that Pantaleo did so “willfully.”
Garner was killed back in July, when multiple officers targeted him for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. The 43-year-old Staten Island man was placed in a chokehold by police who tried to arrest him, then taken to the ground. Video footage of the incident was captured by a bystander, during which Garner can be heard yelling that he can’t breathe, but it doesn’t seem as if officers responded to his complaints.
His death was declared a homicide and a grand jury was convened to determine whether Pantaleo would face criminal charges. On Wednesday, however, the jury decided not to indict him.