One thousand, eight hundred and twenty-six days ago, Eric Garner, under arrest for selling loose cigarettes, died in police custody after 11 times saying “I can’t breathe” while pressed to the pavement by police.
One thousand, six hundred and eighty-seven days ago, hours after a Staten Island grand jury declined to bring charges against Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo, whose use of a banned NYPD chokehold contributed to Garner’s death, then-Attorney General Eric Holder promised, “Our prosecutors will conduct an independent, thorough, fair and expeditious investigation" into whether Pantaleo violated Garner’s civil rights.
The last gasp of hope for justice for Garner’s family was uttered Tuesday, by Richard Donohue, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District. There will be no federal civil rights charges filed.
The feds have a high legal bar that includes proving the officer’s intent to harm the suspect — higher than local prosecutors, who did not indict — but the long and inexplicable delay under two administrations underlines the inanity and insanity of the NYPD waiting and waiting and waiting before finally initiating what should have been a simple disciplinary case.