Family frustrated by pace of NYPD chokehold investigation
NEW YORK (AP) — The family of an unarmed New York City man killed by a police chokehold said they were frustrated that federal authorities still haven’t decided whether to prosecute any of the officers involved in the death.
The family of the slain man, Eric Garner, emerged from a private meeting Wednesday with Justice Department officials saying they had been told that the investigation was still active.
“Once again we are going to be playing the waiting game,” Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, told reporters after the meeting at a Brooklyn hotel.
“We shouldn’t have to wait like this. It is frustrating. Other cases have been solved that came after us and we are still waiting,” Carr said.
Civil rights activist Al Sharpton, who also attended the meeting, said the Justice Department officials assured the family they remain committed to the investigation under the new administration.
“The bad news is we were not told that they’re going to move forward a prosecution,” Sharpton said. “The good news is they said this case is alive and it is not closed.”
Federal authorities said they had no comment on the meeting.
The family and civil rights advocates have been demanding that federal authorities bring a federal case against white Officer Daniel Pantaleo since a state probe ended without charges against him.
Garner, who was accused of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, was stopped by police on Staten Island in 2014 and refused to be handcuffed. Pantaleo is seen on a bystander’s cellphone video putting Garner in an apparent chokehold, which is banned under New York Police Department policy.
The heavyset Garner, who had asthma, is heard gasping, “I can’t breathe.” He later was pronounced dead at a hospital. The medical examiner later ruled the death a homicide caused in part by the chokehold.
Garner’s death sparked angry protests from people complaining about the treatment of black men and boys at the hands of white police officers, and his dying words became a slogan for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Police union officials and Pantaleo’s lawyer argued the officer used a takedown move taught by the police department, not a chokehold, and said Garner’s poor health was the main reason he died.
An attorney for Pantaleo declined to comment Wednesday.
Associated Press writer Tom Hays contributed to this story.