Upd. October 26, 2016 | 1:07am
By Post Editorial Board
|Eric Garner Photo: AP|
When Loretta Lynch was appointed US attorney general in 2014, we expressed delight that she’d be replacing Eric Holder, who had so outrageously politicized the Justice Department. Maybe we spoke too soon.
The New York Times reports that Lynch has just replaced an entire team of FBI agents and federal prosecutors who refused to reach what apparently was a pre-determined outcome in the Eric Garner case.
A Staten Island grand jury refused to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the racially charged 2014 fatal chokehold case, spurring nationwide protests.
FBI agents and Brooklyn federal prosecutors who’ve been looking into possible civil-rights violations reportedly agreed with that outcome — so they all got the boot.
Now, officials from the department’s DC-based Civil Rights Division are in charge — and they’re said to be gung-ho to bring charges (which, after all, is what keeps them in business).
Even the Times concedes that such an investigative shake-up is “highly unusual,” and The Post reports that the ousted prosecutors warn that DC is “trying to appease this angry group of demonstrators.”
As AG, Holder all but guaranteed that Officer Pantaleo would be charged. Now Lynch seems to be more interested in keeping Al Sharpton happy than in a genuinely impartial investigation.
Actually, the Justice Department did just that — except it didn’t reach the politically required conclusion.
As we’ve said before, there is no evidence cops intended to harass or attack Garner. They were responding to pleas from local merchants, angered by Garner’s illegal street sales of “loosie” untaxed cigarettes.
The 350-pound Garner aggressively resisted arrest, declaring “this ends now” and pushing cops away, forcing them to struggle to get him under control.
The incident shouldn’t have ended in his death: Pantaleo might well have faced departmental charges by now — if Justice hadn’t kept its criminal probe open.
Pantaleo’s lawyer, Stuart London, is right that this is shaping up as a gross miscarriage of justice, saying “politics should never replace the rule of law.”
Under President Obama’s attorneys general, though, politics seems to rule.