[UPDATES BELOW] The grand jury tasked with deciding whether to indict an NYPD officer in the death of a Staten Island man this summer has reached a decision. NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo will not be charged in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, sources tell the NY Post, the NY Times, and the Daily News.
The grand jury voted to bring no charges against Officer Pantaleo. The Medical Examiner determined Garner's death a homicide. Chokeholds are prohibited by the NYPD. At a press conference the day after Garner's death, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said, "this would appear to have been a chokehold as defined in the department's patrol guide. But the investigation will seek to confirm that."
The grand jury convened in August, about a month after Garner's death. Garner had allegedly been selling illegal untaxed cigarettes on a Staten Island sidewalk, where police, acting on a complaint from a business owner, approached him. The fatal arrest was captured on video by a witness, and raised questions about how Garner's death would have been handled had the video not been widely publicized. The initial police report about the incident, for instance, makes no mention of the use of a chokehold.
Pantaleo, an eight-year veteran of the NYPD, has been sued twice for alleged civil rights violations, costing taxpayers $30,000 in settlement money. One one occasion he subjected two men to "a humiliating and unlawful strip search" on a Staten Island street, where they were forced to "pull their pants and underwear down, squat and cough."
Protests are expected tonight and tomorrow; we'll update as more information becomes available.
— Monte-Angel Richards (@MonteIsMad) December 3, 2014
— Molly Crabapple (@mollycrabapple) December 3, 2014
Update: The NYCLU has issued this statement:
The failure of the Staten Island Grand Jury to file an indictment in the killing of Eric Garner leaves New Yorkers with an inescapable question: How will the NYPD hold the officers involved accountable for his death? And what will Commissioner Bratton do to ensure that this is the last tragedy of its kind? Unless the Police Department aggressively deals with its culture of impunity and trains officers that they must simultaneously protect both safety and individual rights, officers will continue to believe that they can act without consequence.
Update 3:17 p.m.: Officer Daniel Pantaleo has issued a statement saying, "I became a police officer to help people and to protect those who can’t protect themselves. It is never my intention to harm anyone and I feel very bad about the death of Mr. Garner. My family and I include him and his family in our prayers and I hope that they will accept my personal condolences for their loss."
— Chief Joanne Jaffe (@NYPDCommAffairs) December 3, 2014
Update 3:38 p.m.: Eric Garner's father Ben Garner tells the Staten Island Advance, "There is no justice system. Whites can kill blacks, but not the other way around. Who can control the Police Department? We had a damn video tape."
Update 3:53 p.m.: Here's Mayor de Blasio's statement:
"This is a deeply emotional day - for the Garner Family, and all New Yorkers. His death was a terrible tragedy that no family should have to endure. This is a subject that is never far from my family’s minds - or our hearts. And Eric Garner’s death put a spotlight on police-community relations and civil rights - some of most critical issues our nation faces today. “Today’s outcome is one that many in our city did not want. Yet New York City owns a proud and powerful tradition of expressing ourselves through non-violent protest. We trust that those unhappy with today’s grand jury decision will make their views known in the same peaceful, constructive way. We all agree that demonstrations and free speech are valuable contributions to debate, and that violence and disorder are not only wrong - but hurt the critically important goals we are trying to achieve together.
“These goals - of bringing police and community closer together and changing the culture of law enforcement -- are why we have introduced so many reforms this year. It starts at the top with Commissioner Bratton - a strong, proven change agent. We have dramatically reduced the overuse and abuse of stop-and-frisk. We have initiated a comprehensive plan to retrain the entire NYPD to reduce the use of excessive force and to work with the community. We have changed our marijuana policy to reduce low-level arrests, and we have launched a new pilot program for body cameras for officers to improve transparency and accountability.
“These are the long term reforms we are making to ensure we don’t endure tragedies like this one again in the future. But we also know that this chapter is not yet complete. The grand jury is but one part of the process. There will still be an NYPD internal investigation. And we know the US Attorney is continuing her investigation. Should the federal government choose to act, we stand ready to cooperate.
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - one of our nation’s most profound thinkers on these issues - taught us something very simple: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The problem of police-community relations and civil rights is not just an issue for people of color - or young people - or people who get stopped by police. This is a fundamental issue for every American who cares about justice.
“All of us must work together to make this right - to work for justice - and to build the kind of city - and nation - we need to be."
And here's the statement from Richmond County DA Daniel M. Donovan, Jr. :