The inexplicable decision in the Eric Garner case

I really don’t know what to say after this one.

President Obama and others have been pressing for use of body cameras by police officers, but in the Eric Garner case in New York City, we have extensive video of what happened, taken by onlookers.

We also have the New York medical examiner concluding in August that Garner was killed by a police chokehold, ruling his death a homicide caused by compression of his windpipe and chest. (Garner’s obesity and asthma were listed as contributing factors.)

We have the fact that chokeholds have been barred by the New York Police Department in all circumstances since 1993, a clear recognition that they amount to use of deadly force in situations in which deadly force is not required. Police officers everywhere are trained in a continuum of force justified in each situation.  Nowhere on that NYPD continuum is a chokehold ever allowed.

We have the fact that at worst, Garner was suspected of selling loose, single cigarettes without paying the required tax on them.

We also have the fact that the officer who placed Garner in that fatal chokehold, Daniel Pantaleo, had been sued twice in the past two years for conducting unlawful, racially motivated arrests. That’s consistent with the alleged pattern of harassment that Garner complained about in the video shortly before his death: “Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today. I’m minding my business. Please just leave me alone.”

As the local CBS affiliate reported the cases against Pantaleo:

“In the first lawsuit, settled by the city in January, two black men in their 40s accused Pantaleo and other officers of arresting them without cause and subjecting them to a “humiliating and unlawful strip search” on a Staten Island street that involved ordering them to “pull their pants and underwear down, squat and cough.”

The men said they were held overnight on charges that were ultimately dismissed seven months later.

In a second lawsuit, a man accused Pantaleo and other officers of misrepresenting facts in a police report and other documents to substantiate charges that were eventually dismissed.”

In that first case, the cavity search in question occurred at 10 a.m. on a public street. Pantaleo claimed to have seen cocaine and heroin in open view in the suspects’ car, thus justifying the search. Neither drug was ever found. Rather than try to defend Pantaleo’s actions before a jury, the city of New York paid each of the victims $15,000.

In the second case, filed in February and yet to be resolved, Pantaleo is accused of fabricating evidence. Notably, the charges against the man filing suit were dismissed five days after his arrest, again because of lack of evidence.

Yet despite all that — video, medical examiner, violation of policy, record of excessive force, the fact that failure to comply is not legal justification for use of deadly force — a Staten Island jury on Wednesday refused to even indict Pantaleo in the case.

All that’s bad enough, and I’m sure that some will still argue that Garner somehow brought this upon himself, as if police officers have no responsibility to behave professionally, as if resisting arrest justifies use of deadly force. But personally, the most compelling and depressing part of the case comes after Garner has been placed in the chokehold, complains that he can’t breath, collapses on the street, coughs up blood, lapses into unconsciousness, ceases breathing and is handcuffed.

What happens next? Nothing.  In the seven long minutes of the video above, no effort whatsoever is made to assist Garner or even check to see whether he is alive. His pockets are searched. His handcuffs are kept on. But no effort is made to perform CPR. At about four minutes into the video, two EMTs and two paramedics arrive; one nonchalantly checks Garner’s pulse but takes no further action. Again, the complete and utter lack of concern is apparent. Again, no effort is made to revive him. His body is simply placed on a gurney and rolled away.

“Black lives matter”? Not based on the evidence in that video.

———————

** The four emergency medical personnel were later suspended without pay.

 

Reader Comments 0

922 comments
WoodstockMike
WoodstockMike

Liberals bashing law enforcement is so great to watch....


The Dems have some tough years ahead...


They keep digging and digging and digging...

stands_for_decibels
stands_for_decibels

Get it now,   Blue light special,   In NY and everywhere,   Get your free stuff.   The liberals/deomorats say it's not  fair that people should pay for this s**t.    Get it now,   TV's  .free or at least 95% off.    Subject to in store stock .   No rainchecks.


tick...tick...tick. 

lvg
lvg

Lynching by police

CardiganBoy
CardiganBoy

I'm not qualified to tell you whether a crime occurred.  But it's just damned sad.  A civilized society ought not treat its citizens like that.  




JoeBobJoe
JoeBobJoe

Get it now,   Blue light special,   In NY and everywhere,   Get your free stuff.   The liberals/deomorats say it's not  fair that people should pay for this s**t.    Get it now,   TV's  .free or at least 95% off.    Subject to in store stock .   No rainchecks.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

“Black lives matter”? Not based on the evidence in that video.

---------------

Got any evidence that race played any role in this event?

Didn't think so.

td1234
td1234

Mama's don't teach your babies to grow up to be criminals. 

Don;t let 'em pick fights with cops and walk with their pants at their knees

Make 'em be doctors and lawyers and such

DekalbComments
DekalbComments

There are many posters who believe the Grand Jury system is fair. After all the prosecutor presented all the evidence to a jury of the target's peers. 


That assumes the prosecutor actually presented all the evidence. In this case from what I understand there is no plan to release all the evidence to the public. That is the very problem with the grand jury system. It is a secret system (not unlike the FISA Court) where there is no sunlight. As we saw in the Ferguson case, the prosecutor there basically presented a defense of the officer. 


As an attorney I don't practice criminal law but have several friends who have or do and they say the actions of the prosecutor in Ferguson were nearly unbelievable. They recognize there is a often a close affinity between the DA's office and the local law enforcement agencies. That too has been confirmed to me by someone who works in a DA's office and some friends who work in law enforcement. 


So we don't know what happened in the grand jury room in New York. We don't know if all the evidence was presented. We don't know if the prosecutor essentially put on a defense of the officer. How can you trust a system shrouded in secrecy? 


Further the objective of a grand jury is to determine if there is sufficient probable cause to charge someone with a crime. It is not a court charged with establishing findings of fact. That is what a trial court does. It is a forum to determine if there is a basis for charging someone with a crime. It is in the trial court where the adversarial system plays out with the state presenting evidence that is met by a defense. It is then for a jury to determine whether someone is guilty of the crime charged. 


Secondly, the U.S. Justice department can only determine if a violation of a federal law or a denial of a constitutionally-protected right has been violated. They have no general police power to control how a state executes its general police power. 


I read that Wisconsin has a system under which when a law enforcement officer is suspected of having committed a crime against a potential suspect, the issue is taken away from the local DA's office and is managed by someone at the state level. There is a state DA that stands in for the local DA and conducts the grand jury. 


That would seem prudent to me. While even the state DA could have an affinity and natural desire to protect law enforcement you wouldn't have someone who works with the police every day now presenting evidence to a grand jury. 


As for those who say this young man had been arrested 30 times. First of all, do we know how many times, if any he was convicted? Even if he was convicted 30 times, that doesn't give the police the liberty to deprive the man of oxygen and kill him and then walk away.


Whether conservatives want to accept it or not we are increasingly living in a police state and one in which guns are pervasive. And trust me just as we saw with Occupy Wall Street, the 1% will use the power of law enforcement (and if needed the military) to subdue the 99%. 

JamVet
JamVet

Then, when the police predictably murder an unarmed man for no legitimate reason, you jump all over them for not being perfect.


Only in straker's America.

josef
josef

We have militarized the police forces out of fear of "if..."  They respond looking like Iraq on a bad hair day.  That's where we are.  Too late folks are taking a look and going OMG.  Well, what the hell did you expect.  Habeas corpus is MIA and the list is on and on...the time for protest was BEFORE we reached this pretty pass.  Hang it up, we're on the downhill slide to the police state.  

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Going back to where this all began.

Thanks to New York’s laughably high cigarette taxes ($4.35 state plus another $1.60 in the city) and higher prices generally, a pack of smokes in New York City costs $14 or more. That creates a powerful incentive to smuggle smokes in from states such as Virginia, where you can buy a pack for a third of that price. Fill a Ford Econoline van with a few hundred cartons and you can make a nice five-figure profit in a weekend. Some people do.

The robust cigarette smuggling irritates officials in New York, because they miss out on a lot of tax revenue. The trade irritates officials in Virginia for the same reason, because smugglers buy wholesale to avoid the retail sales tax.

There’s an easy fix for all of this: Cut New York’s cigarette taxes. (Virginia could hike its own tax, but then Virginia didn’t create this problem—New York did.) Yet cutting the cigarette tax would deprive New York of revenue, and we mustn’t have that, oh no. Besides, it would send the wrong signal. New York wishes to make people stop smoking, and punitive taxes are the way to do that without outright banning tobacco, which would be too obviously narrow-minded.

http://reason.com/archives/2014/12/03/how-new-york-citys-steep-cigarette-taxes

Think about it...in a roundabout way, the revenue made off of New York's cigarette tax,  paid the cops who put a choke hold on  Mr. Garner.

straker
straker

You con tools are really a piece of work.


First, you clamor and scream about your "right to keep and bear arms" and your puppets in Congress and the Court allow HUGE numbers of guns to be sold.


Then, when the police predictably react as though everyone is armed, you jump all over them for not being perfect.


Only in America.

Doggone_GA
Doggone_GA

"Why are the cops so heavily armed if not to combat the little guns that many gun nuts now have"

It has a lot to do with this incident:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZg4mcYkIwU

At that time most police carried only handguns, not "long guns" and this event was not resolved until a gun shop owner opened up his arsenal to the police so they could fight the bank robbers on a more equal footing.  Until then, they couldn't get close enough to be effective, because the bank robbers had guns with a much greater range.

HDB0329
HDB0329

@WoodstockMike ...if the cops would quit acting like armed thugs and treat the citizenry with respect, then bashing them wouldn't be necessary.....would it???

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@CardiganBoy 


The demilitarization of the police in America is as much a matter of changing police perceptions as it is of taking away some of their arms.  It is a matter of training them to use wise, prudent, and caring judgment.  Heaven help us, if the police start seeing themselves as victims.  The police must help alleviate problems in our nation, not become the creators of problems in communities.

JoeBobJoe
JoeBobJoe

 No liberals/progessives/demorats going to is upcoming sale???

DekalbComments
DekalbComments

@JoeBobJoe


What a disgusting post. Do you have your white robe and pointy hat pressed for your next KKK meeting? I'm sure one is happening somewhere near you soon. 

HDB0329
HDB0329

@LilBarryBailout Plenty of evidence....white cops choke out unarmed black man...and gets away with murder....just like it was in the old days of Birmingham........or haven't you seen/heard this before????

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@DekalbComments 


Just a point or two about the case in Ferguson, Missouri: An Assistant to the Prosecutor presented to the Grand Jury, early in their tenure, a law in which part of it was invalid in that that part had been over ruled by a later law.  The jurors did not know that  that out of date law, which gave the police more authority to kill than is granted today, was unlawful today.  The Grand Jury sized up evidence and discarded evidence, day after day for over a month, based on that erroneous, no longer valid, law.  On the last day or two of their tenure, the Assistant to the Prosecutor corrected her error to the Grand Jury, but any reasonable person would know that that gross error (deliberate or not) could easily have changed the Grand Jury's verdict.


Moreover, I heard on television a medical examiner stating that one of the bullets which entered Michael Brown's arm was at an angle in which he had to have had his arms raised.  This means he could have easily had his arms raised in surrender as some witnesses testified.  This case needed to be tried with full cross examination.  The Prosecuting Attorney wanted it dismissed, imo.  He had friends on the police force.  Six of his own family members were policemen.  I listened to his full 20 minute television explanation before he gave the verdict of the Ferguson Grand Jury.  I listened very closely to the words uttered.  From my training as a reading specialist, my opinion was that he attempted to justify the opinions of the Grand Jury to the public.  I believe he was biased, too close to the police to be a fair professional, in spite of his amiable demeanor.  Brown is dead.  That needed a trial even if it came to acquittal. 

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@FIGMO2 I'm frankly surprised that none of our more libertarian posters has yet held Mr. Garner up as some sort of martyr to the cause of tax resistance.  In that respect, he should be as much of a hero to them as Cliven Bundy.

_GodlessHeathen_
_GodlessHeathen_

@Doggone_GA And if it happened in LA, it could happen anywhere, so every PD needs to be more heavily armed and better equipped than the Marines landing on Iwo Jima.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@Doggone_GA

The N Hollywood robbery was an important event, no question. 

But was the federal program that has moved these arms to local departments really ratcheted up in direct response to that? 

JoeBobJoe
JoeBobJoe

@DekalbComments @JoeBobJoe  I would hold off saying this is a disgusting post.   The  people in Ferguson got shopping done early.   Maybe , you can take your son/daugh  to the  liquor store  


P.S  Since I believe you live  in Dekalb,   I am inviting you the next  cross burning in Stone Mt..   However, the robe is only medium, so it may not fit your lardass

Doggone_GA
Doggone_GA

@_GodlessHeathen_ @Doggone_GA Yes, it could happen anywhere.  And your hyperbole aside...most officers are better armed than the LA officers were then...but last time I checked they don't routinely carry rocket launchers and grenades.

Doggone_GA
Doggone_GA

@Brosephus @Doggone_GA I've seen that video many times on TV.  It's frightening in a way that is different from the Eric Garner video.

And it's the main reason I don't decry the militarization of our police forces.

DekalbComments
DekalbComments

@JoeBobJoe @DekalbComments


I have no son or daughter and I don't drink. Perhaps you do. 


Yes I live in Dekalb in the Toco Hills area. I am 6'4" and weigh 190 pounds. How about you? I suspect you are much fatter than I am. 


You conservatives are all alike - uneducated, fat and stupid. 

Brosephus
Brosephus

@Doggone_GA 

True.  I kinda see both sides of the coin. 

I understand the concern people have about the heavy equipment being given to police, especially when it's deployed into situations that don't require it.

At the same time, if the flying fecal matter hits the oscillating wind generating machine, you don't want an officer coming to your defense with only a .40 handgun if the person shooting at you has a .50 Barret rifle.  The round from that gun can disable a car by punching a hole in the engine block, so imagine what it could do to the human body.

If we were not such a gun happy country, we probably wouldn't need police with high powered weaponry and vehicles.  If we want to be safe, we can't cripple the police and have them overwhelmingly out gunned by criminals.

BeeJay
BeeJay

@DekalbComments @JoeBobJoe Interesting presumption. I'm conservative, college degree, not fat or stupid. In fact, I'm pretty average, going about my life, working every day, raising decent family, trying to manage in a horrendously corrupt political environment that seems to penalize the average American citizen.

JoeBobJoe
JoeBobJoe

@DekalbComments @JoeBobJoe  Gee,  we are close 6'3''  ,  215 lbs,  If you want to call  it fat, so be it.  However,  I' m  not a liberal, piece of of  garbage like you,   (i.e Toco Hills!!) (what I call  a whining NIBY) . I have a Master in Science (ok, engineering), not in   some dumass degree you may have.   (So, the uneducated and stupid is wrong) And  I am also retired Military (22 years) (Bet, that's hard for you,),  I have to admit,  6.4 and 190, is pretty good.


Spirit Of The Bayonet:   To Kill

Rangers Lead the Way

Doggone_GA
Doggone_GA

@Brosephus @Doggone_GA Bro...it would be easy to make the argument that our gun culture is at least partly to blame...and maybe to a point it is.  But even the London Bobbies eventually had to tone down their "no lethal weapons" policy...because a night-stick isn't much use either against a high-powered rifle.

It's ALWAYS an escalation game and generally the bad guys win the first round.  It's how the good guys respond to that that determines if events like LA become more common on not.

Not being a "gun culture" wasn't much use to those kids killed in the Norway massacre.

KUTGF
KUTGF

@Brosephus @Doggone_GA  So we are in an arms war with ourselves now instead of the Russians.  What an absolute policy failure all around. 

LeninTime
LeninTime

@Brosephus @Doggone_GA
So you're basically accepting the premise that police militarization is entirely a question of arming police to better do their job, i.e. serve the public, thereby dismissing the possibility that the police are being militarized because they're in the service of a ruling elite that increasingly views the public as a hostile occupied population? 

LeninTime
LeninTime

@Doggone_GA @Brosephus

Not being a "gun culture" wasn't much use to those kids killed in the Norway massacre.

***

That's a rather bizarre statement.Had the kids been armed to the teeth the results of that massacre would likely have been the same.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@Doggone_GA @Brosephus

It's ALWAYS an escalation game and generally the bad guys win the first round.  It's how the good guys

***
Wait, trying to keep track here, who are the "bad guys"? Who are the "good guys'? 

Brosephus
Brosephus

@KUTGF 

Bonnie and Clyde?  John Dillinger?  Billy the Kid?

It's always been about who can outgun who.


Brosephus
Brosephus

@LeninTime 

I bet you produce some high grade meth from that lab of yours.  How you were able to synthesize that from what I posted stretches the knowledge of chemistry to the breaking point.