Last night, I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me (no pun intended) after hearing the Grand Jury decision stating Officer Daniel Pantaleo would not be INDICTED. I’m not sure what video they were watching, but what I saw in my humble opinion shows the police using excessive force.
I flipped back and forth from CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, & local news in hopes of finding out how the grand jury reached their decision, but instead I found the majority of commentators, and law enforcement are equally perplexed. How in the world could the grand jury not find Pantaleo culpable of something? Negligent homicide. Manslaughter. Something? I don’t know what evidence the grand jury was presented with for them not to hold him accountable for Garner’s death, especially since the medical examiner ruled it a homicide.
There are a lot of questions I have that I’m sure will probably never really and truly be answered. Did Pantaleo feel threatened since Garner was such a big imposing man?
While watching the various news outlets I learned that the offense Eric Garner died for isn’t even an arrestable offense, unless he has committed some other serious crime or there were warrants for his arrest. If the latter two didn’t exist Garner should have been given a ticket or summons for selling cigarettes or loosies without a vendor’s license. So, why didn’t that happen? I also learned that his crime is considered a quality of life crime – a low-level crime, a victimless crime. So, he wasn’t hurting anyone. He may have been a public nuisance to businesses. Quality of life crimes include: panhandling, vandalism, prostitution and yes the selling of loosies. But was this crime worth the ultimate penalty – Garner’s life?
I don’t believe anyone should peddle their wares without a license, nor do I believe someone should be obstreperous when given a directive by the police. I know the police are under a lot of pressure (12 hour shifts and in some jurisdictions mandatory overtime), but does that allow them to use excessive force? or chokeholds that have been banned since the 1993? Why aren’t police held accountable for their actions and/or inactions? When Garner said 11 times, ‘I can’t breath,’ why didn’t Pantaleo and the rest of the officers provide him with relief (i.e. releasing the illegal chokehold, releasing the pressure applied to his back and chest, sit him in an upright position?) When they discovered he was no longer breathing why didn’t any one of the 6 officers try to resuscitate him? Perhaps his other health conditions (obesity, asthma, high blood pressure, heart problems) were contributing factors in his death, but the fact remains the medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide due to “compression of the neck; compressions to the chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.”
Even though New York law does not allow the district attorney to release information regarding a grand jury’s findings, I hope that at some point it is released. I’m curious to know what evidence was presented and how they came to their decision.