A grand jury in Staten Island voted Wednesday not to indict New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner, a black man who died after being placed in a chokehold.
Garner, 43, died July 17 while he was being arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes. In a video of the arrest, which has since gone viral, Garner screams “I can’t breathe!” multiple times until his body goes limp. A medical examiner later said that he died of a chokehold, a move that is banned by the NYPD, and ruled his death a homicide.
Garner’s attorney said Wednesday that the “family is very upset and disappointed that these officers are not getting indicted for any criminal conduct.”
Pantaleo said in a statement Wednesday that he regretted Garner’s death.
“I became a police officer to help people and to protect those who can’t protect themselves,” Pantaleo said. “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.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called Garner’s death “a terrible tragedy that no family should have to endure,” and said he would continue to work to decrease the use of excessive force among officers.
“This is a subject that is never far from my family’s minds – or our hearts,” he said. “And Eric Garner’s death put a spotlight on police-community relations and civil rights – some of most critical issues our nation faces today.”
The decision in the Garner case comes just over a week after a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, declined to indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. A series of protests erupted nationwide immediately following the decision in Ferguson, and New York officials braced for similar protests on Wednesday.
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