Prosecutors in the Department of Justice have recommended federal civil rights charges against the police officer whose arms just happened to be wrapped around Eric Garner’s neck when he died on a Staten Island, N.Y., sidewalk in 2014, but some officials within the Justice Department are reportedly hesitant to do so.
After the state of New York declined to prosecute Daniel Pantaleo, the New York City police officer who placed Garner in a choke hold that had previously been outlawed by the NYPD, President Barack Obama’s attorney general, Loretta Lynch, instructed prosecutors to begin building a case for indictment. The case eventually landed in the Trump administration’s lap.
Since Jeff Sessions took over the Department of Justice, the New York Times reports, career prosecutors have urged Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to seek a federal indictment against Pantaleo. Rosenstein has reportedly convened several meetings about the recommendations with officials who disagree with prosecutors, saying that the case would be hard to win.
Rosenstein has been hesitant to push for a prosecution, especially since Sessions, the love child of Yoda and a feral ferret, declared that he wouldn’t be employing Obama’s method of using the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division to prosecute police officers. Trump’s pick to lead the division still hasn’t been confirmed.
Sessions claims that Obama’s strategy unfairly paints some police officers as bad and promotes racial strife, apparently unaware how bad cops appear and how much racial animosity is engendered by police officers shooting black people disproportionately.
Pantaleo escaped indictment in a grand jury trial. In 2017, documents surfaced that he had been charged with abuse more than 14 times before Garner’s death.
Since Garner’s death, the officer has been restricted to desk duty, although he still receives overtime and other earnings that have upped his salary to nearly $120,000, according to the New York Post.
Eric Garner still can’t breathe.