Staten Island Grand Jury Refuses To Indict NYPD Officer In Chokehold Death
A New York City Grand Jury refuses to indict a cop who appears from all available evidence to choked a guy to death for no good reason.
While there has been a lot of media attention paid to the shooting death of Michael Brown back on August 9th, New York City has been dealing with its own controversial death at the hands of police. The origins of the story go back to July 17th when an African-American man named Eric Garner was approached by a plain-clothed New York City Police Officer who suspected him of illegally selling cigarettes and other items on the street. Eventually, the plain clothed office was joined by other officers, including Officer Daniel Pantaleo who, while Garner had his hands in the air but continued to argue with police, approached Garner from behind in an effort to subdue him and ended up getting him in a hold which many have described as a choke hold, a move that has been banned by the NYPD for several years now due to the dangers that it tends to be applied incorrectly and result in death or serious injury. In Garner’s case, there is video of Garner saying that he cannot breath, but Pantaleo continued to apply the hold until Garner loses consciousness and eventually dies. As with the Ferguson case, the Garner case resulted in protests, although none of them have been violent or disruptive in any respect.
To more fully understand what happened, it’s helpful to watch the video that was shot by someone who just happened to be on the scene, here are two versions of it:
As in the Ferguson case, a Grand Jury was quickly given the case in Richmond County, New York, which is basically Staten Island, the location where Garner died. That investigation has gone on for several months and, as permitted by New York law, included testimony by Officer Panteleo at his own request. As the investigation went on, it became apparent that the outcome could range everywhere from an indictment for 2nd Degree Murder, to a lesser charge like criminally negligent homicide, to no indictment at all. Today, that Grand Jury came back with the announcement that there would be no indictment in the Garner case, and now the question is what the reaction in New York City will be:
A Staten Island grand jury has voted not to bring criminal charges against the white New York City police officer at the center of the Eric Garner case, a person briefed on the matter said Wednesday.
The decision was reached on Wednesday after months of testimony including from the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, who used a chokehold to restrain Mr. Garner, an unarmed black man who died after a confrontation. It came less than two weeks after a grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., declined to bring charges against a white officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown.
For days, the New York City Police Department has been readying for a new round of protests, which began in the city after the Ferguson decision and which were expected to continue and possibly grow if the grand jury declined to bring charges against the officer.
In Ferguson, protesters and police officers clashed in the streets almost immediately after Mr. Brown’s killing by Officer Darren Wilson in August; riots erupted on the night the grand jury’s decision was announced last month. By contrast, in late August, a demonstration on Staten Island over the death of Mr. Garner, 43, proceeded without confrontation or arrest.
The grand jury, impanelled by District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan Jr. in September, has weighed evidence – including a video recorded by bystanders of Mr. Garner’s violent arrest – and heard testimony from the officers involved.
Grand juries determine whether enough evidence exists for a case to go forward to a criminal trial, either before a jury or a judge. By law, they operate in secret and hear only evidence presented by prosecutors, who also instruct the grand jurors on the law. Defense lawyers are barred from speaking. For a decision, 12 jurors who have heard all the evidence must agree.
An indictment was considered only against Officer Pantaleo, who testified last, on Nov. 21, his lawyer, Stuart London, said. The other officers received immunity, he said.
The case exposed lapses in police tactics – chokeholds are banned by the Police Department’s own guidelines – and raised questions about the aggressive policing of minor offenses in a time of historically low crime. The officers, part of a plainclothes unit, suspected Mr. Garner of selling loose cigarettes on the street near the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, a complaint among local business owners.
It’s unclear at this point whether we will see the same release of evidence that accompanied the announcement last week of no indictment in the Michael Brown shooting in Missouri. In that case, the release was made by the District Attorney himself, who had apparently concluded that the state’s open records law essentially gave him sole discretion over whether or not to release anything or nothing. It’s not clear that New York has a similar law and, indeed, in most states the law states rather clearly that Grand Jury proceedings are supposed to remain sealed indefinitely unless otherwise permitted by a Judge. Unless that happens, though, its going to be difficult to tell what exactly it might have been about the evidence presented that persuaded this Grand Jury that there was not probable cause for at least a low-level homicide charge in this case, particularly given the videos showing how this matter unfolded, which is quite obviously very different from the circumstances of the Brown shooting even if you take the facts of that case in the light most favorable to Officer Wilson. Here, it seems clear from the video that Garner was not doing anything belligerent when the police first approached him, and that the situation only became heated as the police officers involved continued to press Garner for reasons that remain rather unclear. Indeed, even if it was true that Garner was illegally selling cigarettes, that is hardly the type of offense that would justify the police behavior we saw on this tape, especially given the fact that the apparent chokehold that Officer Panteleo used on Garner has been banned by the NYPD and other departments for years now because of the likelihood that it would lead to precisely what happened in this situation. The added fact that the officers involved were white while Garner was African-American, of course, just added fuel to the fire of the eventual protests that occurred in the wake of Garner’s death.
As with the Brown shooting, Garner’s death is also being investigated by the Justice Department, but it’s unclear that there will be sufficient evidence here for civil rights charges against the officers involved. Additionally, Garner’s family has already announced that they plan to pursue a civil case against the city, and that case is likely to drag on for years. In the here and now, though, we have yet another example of what many people are going to interpret as police once again being allowed to get away with something in a situation involving an African-American man. Even if there’s no direct evidence of racial prejudice involved, it will likely add to the resentments that have fueled the protests across the nation since the decision from the Ferguson Grand Jury. I don’t expect we’ll see violent rioting in New York City, however. The Police Department there has been in relatively good communication with the protesters in the Garner case from the beginning and the protests that have taken place in that case have been peaceful and generally not disruptive. Additionally, the NYPD is far more experienced and competent when it comes to things like crowd control than the police in Ferguson and St. Louis County. Nonetheless, this result is likely to once again stir the pot when it comes to the relationship between law enforcement and minority communities. At some point, we’re going to have to start looking for solutions to problems like this rather than just continuing to let them happen.
New York’s Finest.
In addition NYC is not the racist hell-hole that St. Louis is…so tensions are not as high to begin with. It isn’t heaven if you are a minority…but it ain’t St. Louis.
But hey, the cop said he was sorry and would pray for the family, so it’s all good!
At this point, I’m in despair. Is there no set of circumstances in which a police officer can kill a black man that warrants criminal charge? This was on video and the examiner said it was a homicide. Gawd almighty, what could be clearer than that?
We need change-legislative change. The police are not supposed to be a special caste with unlimited power to kill civilians when and how they feel like, especially if such civilans are black.
Yeah, that’s why all those stop and frisk of Caucasians were put to a stop by the courts….oh, wait….
Alas, the police unions will never allow it.
I’m a 54 year old Hispanic man, and upon seeing this breaking news on CNN, I just wanted to head out protest somewhere. Seriously. I want to break something.
Not right. Not helpful. I know.
On video. Illegal Chokehold. Not Resisting. Hands Up (LITERALLY!). Choked to death in front of 30 witnesses.
AND NO INDICTMENT?
Are you effing kidding me?
THIS. THIS is why people of color don’t trust the system.
I’m successful. I have a great career, and am one of the 1%. I split time between homes in Los Angeles and South Florida and an apartment in NYC. Yet, I still seethe from the rage and humiliation of being a 16 year old Latino in East Los Angeles, being routinely hassled by cops because I was “driving through the wrong neighborhood” (San Marino or South Pasadena). I remember being arrested and taken to jail for literally “looking” at a cop. The charge: Challenging a Peace Officer to fight. Charges were dropped, but not before I spent a night in the Highland Park Jail. That’s just one of many stories my friends and I can share. And we were lucky. At least we wren’t shot dead, like so many of our African American brothers.
It’s a goddamn shame. And it’s wrong. And it’s gonna continue, just like mass shootings, because too many stupid, scared, idiot white people don’t think there is any sort of effing problem.
Hey Jack –
Go f** yourself.
[Edited to comply with Comment Policy — DM]
At this point, anyone with a badge is a 00-agent… I’m sympathetic with the challenges that police have today, but this is completely absurd.
Perhaps it is not a good idea for the prosecutors who need help from the police on a daily basis overseeing grand jury proceedings? A special prosecutor for police cases?
@CrustyDem: It was yesterday’s post. See here:
Yes, it is legal in this country for cops to murder black men.
Anyone want to argue that? Fine, you can start by showing me a case of a white cop being indicted or convicted in any killing of a black man, ever.
One could easily conclude from recent cases concerning police use of force – deadly force – that there are no circumstances (other than property crime such as stealing drugs and money placed into evidence) under which a Grand Jury will decide that a police officer should face criminal charges. It seems that when a police officer takes a life the presumption is that the officer acted ‘reasonably’ (‘reasonably’ apparently being redefined to mean ‘in all circumstances’)
I know that many conservatives feel that race and racism stopped being an issue once the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts were passed in 1964 and 1965, but race never stopped being an issue.
Do you have a point?
From the video, this appears to be a pretty straightforward homicide. This should boil everyone’s blood.
@michael reynolds: The federal trail of the officers that beat Rodney King. Other than that…I got nothing.
Wrong door raids, blatantly false CI information that leads to right door raids but results in innocents harmed, policing for profit, city budgets that demand officers write x number of tickets in order to generate x number of budgetary dollars. Officers lieing on warrants and on the stand.
And people wonder why a large percentage of America dislikes/distrusts police officers.
I’m old enough to remember much of the struggle for civil rights in the 60s. And here we are, half a century later. The police can harass, attack, and kill people of color with impunity.
I actually feel almost physically sick. How the f**k have we gotten it so terribly wrong?
@CrustyDem: That post was requested for deletion as I posted here rather than in the other OTB forum.
It was meant for someone else.
@al-Ameda: So, officer Wilson would not have shot a 6ft 285 lb white man that punched him in the face, went for his weapon, and charged the officer? Is that what you are telling me? The officer in this case would not have put a choke hold on a known white person that sold untaxed cigarettes?
While I agree that race remains an issue in policing, these are not the cases upon which to bet the farm.
A grand jury can indict a ham sandwich
But somehow, never a white police officer who kills a black man.
12 out of 23 members of a grand jury have to vote to indict for a criminal case to proceed in Staten Island.Somehow, at least 11 members of that jury looked at the video, looked at the examiner’s verdict, and said, “Hey, officer, you’re OK. All you did is kill a black man with an illegal chokehold.You can pick up your gun and badge and go to work tomorrow to continue the good work of ridding our borough of Negro cigarette sellers. Carry on and be safe.”
There are very effective methods of subduing a suspect that are very safe. Such as the arm behind the back manuever and the wrist twist, both of which are simple and quick. The F.B.I. employs safe methods that could be used to train local police teams.
Watch “Criminal Minds” , ” Hawaii 5-0″
I’m betting we won’t see any wide ranging legislative action on this until somebody white and blond gets unjustly killed by the police. Frankly, it’s clear to me that some lives matter than others, even if you don’t see it.
The Michael Brown grand jury proceeding had lots of problems with it, but at heart it was the word of several unreliable witnesses against the word of an unreliable police officer. It was a vague situation where, in my humble opinion, there should have been more thorough investigation. They decided not to. Suspicious, but not to the point of conspiracy.
This, though? What the hell is this? Who watches one of those videos and has no further questions?
Some suggestions from the poster “Aimai” on Balloon Juice:
Mind you, I think we will each get our own personal unicorn before anything like that passes our current Congress. But at least this can be a basis for discussion.
Right now, I think our current justice system is an enabler of injustice. I feel the same way the Revolutionaries must have felt in 1776. That’s a dangerous feeling to have.
That happens too. Police and SWAT fuckers are out of control. You should see what the average cop looks like in NYC. Obese, stupid, and Lazy. I’m a Smoker and i see cops all the time sneaking breaks or just meandering around without purpose. I think a cop starts out at 25K or something so you get what you pay for.
I’m still hung up on Salvatore J. Culosi Jr., getting gunned down by SWAT in 2006. My point is though police brutality undoubtedly affects blacks more than whites, but it can and still happen to anyone of us.
Please release my comment, etc.
Stupid people. Hateful people. Ignorant people. Gullible the-law-is-always-right people. People who just don’t care and want to go home before the last ferry.
You know, Americans.
This is the kind of crap that make me promote a professional jury system. People officially trained in science and the law, that are thoroughly vetted for intelligence and ethics, paid to do nothing but serve as juries. We are an ugly, ignorant culture sometimes and it freaking shows in cases like this. All a lawyers has to do is pick the jury just right and even the most blatant of murders gets a pass.
If a Grand Jury won’t indict it’s because the prosecutor didn’t want them to indict.
I don’t think anyone outside the Foxverse doubts that Grand Juries are the tame lap dogs of prosecutors.
No, Jack, Tillman put it very well, so here you go:
Generally, my opinion is that Officer Wilson did an extremely poor job of controlling that situation. He was armed, he had called for assistance, and still he could not get control without killing Michael Brown. Unacceptable.
You know, at this point I might volunteer if I thought it would do any good.
But Mike Brown was a large black man…which apparently for many white people (you know, like Jack) is the same as having a weapon…so in their cowardly eyes…acceptable.
Keep in mind that Garner was also a large black man…and he was selling cigarettes illegally…ipso facto in Republican-upside-down-world…an armed thug.
Let’s see. Wilson said Brown hit him in the face twice with such force he thought another punch would kill him. Yet photos of Wilson after the altercation look like he was wrestling with a puppy, not being beaten nearly to death.
The physical evidence says Wilson is a liar.
The goal of a prosecutor is to get convictions of those people a community wishes to see convicted. In order to get convictions prosecutors rely on the police. They rely on the police to investigate, and then to lie on the stand, if necessary.
This corrupt circle makes it effectively impossible for prosecutors to go after cops — cops who could quite easily sabotage a prosecutor, or provide evidence of prosecutorial malfeasance.
So long as prosecutors are political animals they will respond to demographics – Staten Island is 64% white, just under 10% black – and they will protect those who provide them necessary career support: cops,
One of many reasons why rational people oppose the death penalty. The system is inherently corrupt, and inherently weighted against black defendants.
Grand juries should not be permissible in the case of homicides. This new fad of abusing the grand jury system to conduct secret trials needs to be put to an end. A man died, there ought to be a presumption that someone ought to be charged. Let an actual jury decide, after a complete examination of the evidence and cross-examination of witnesses. Not a kangaroo court.
This surprises me a lot more than the Ferguson case. And it depresses me just as much.
Police are out of control. Thugs in blue.
Re: “In Garner’s case, there is video of Garner saying that he cannot breath, but Pantaleo continued to apply the hold until Garner loses consciousness and eventually dies.”
You might want to re-watch the video, especially the second one. At the 4:04 mark Garner is saying “I can’t breathe”, a woman cop (?) is checking his pulse, and he is in obvious distress, but the chokehold has been gone for many minutes.
Doesn’t change the fact that this is a debacle, but still, let’s preserve a semblance of journalistic standards.
Ancillary problem: body cameras wouldn’t have aided indictment in this case, what with having what I will call blatant video evidence available.
Maybe it’s just because I recently saw the Daily Show episode on Ferguson from Monday, but I’m wondering (probably without just cause) how many of these grand jury members are diehard Fox News enthusiasts.
Just a footnote to the body cam issue. I read a story (think it was in LA Times) a while back which reported that a large percentage of LAPD car cams were disabled at any given time, and that the response of senior department leadership suggested that they did not have a problem with that.
@C. Clavin: IIRC Officer Wilson is 6′ 4″ himself, lighter, but perhaps more fit, at 210.
@michael reynolds: Forget who in an earlier thread suggested we need an automatic special prosecutor when the police are suspect. Someone not local, not dependent on local law enforcement.
NYPD police chief sticks foot in mouth discussing Garner case:
A Clockwork Orange
Was Michael Brown able to testify? Eric Garner? Why are their killers allowed to testify when they WILL lie. This is not a slander, it is human nature, not even necessarily intentional on their part. Nobody wants to admit they killed somebody without cause, so they color their memories to make themselves the unequivocal good guy. One reading of Darren Wilson’s testimony shows the ludicrousness of it. His story was a joke.
Was he guilty of murder? I don’t know. What I do know is he was definitely guilty of stupidity. Michael Brown should still be alive. So should Eric Garner. And John Crawford. and Tamir Rice and… Ad infinitim.
Even more than the Brown case, this one was insane.
I’ve done a fair amount of judo, have choked people and been choked as a normal part of competition and practice. There’s no way he could not have known what he was doing to his victim in that choke.
But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? How often does something like that happen…
We need federal legislation to protect civilians against police abuse- a federal Civilian Rights Act. We need it now.
At the very least, a special prosecutor should be automatically assigned whenever there is a police killing. Prosecutors can indict anyone they want-except the police officers they work with. We have now seen that proven beyond reasonable doubt- really, the way we know 2+2=4. It’s that clear.
That special prosecutor needs to have its own investigators because as we know, we can’t trust the police to investigate their own.
This will do for a start.
It may be only a start, but it is that.
One thing we should consider is reviving the practice of private prosecutions in cases where a public official or government employee is involved, rather than being forced to rely on another public official who often has a conflict of interest.
See “White officer convicted in train station killing of unarmed black man,” Associated Press July 08, 2010
You diminish yourself my making unsubstantiated claims, without even 2 minutes worth of searching. But I agree that it bar is too high for indictments in too many of these cases, and even the link I found said it was a rare instance. In the New York case, given the video, and the knowledge that the choke hold was forbidden, a charge of manslaughter, if not 2nd degree murder would be warranted in my opinion.
My only exposure to cops in white bread Connecticut is maybe a speeding ticket.
Even then they tend to be total fvcking dicks.
Brown and Garner were both treated like trash. Left on the street to die.
Whether it was because of their color is up for discussion.
What isn’t is the fact that cops are typically a-holes.
Throw in abject fear over a large black man…and nothing good can ever happen.
We need to have a discussion about the outsized power cops posess…and excusing a flawed Grand Jury process will never get us there.
I didn’t make an “unsubstantiated claim” I posed a challenge. You cited a case. I will freely admit that my Google-fu is not as advanced as yours.
Oakland PD has a long history of brutality – as witness lots of very expensive payouts in civil cases and the fact that it has been under federal oversight for a decade. Oakland was home to the notorious “Rough Riders” who were pretty much Vick Mackie (The Shield) writ large and when charged were let off by an all-white jury – in a city 1/3 black. Of historical note: OPD’s thuggishness was a large impetus to the formation of the Black Panthers, and this is the same force that ended up helping to fund Tupac Shakur’s career after a lawsuit arising from a vicious beating for the crime of jaywalking.
Oakland cops have been a criminal organization preying on black people for a very long time, and on one occasion – just the one – one cop was finally convicted. This example mostly points up the rarity (as you concede) of such prosecutions, and the special circumstance of a thoroughly discredited police force.
I had been away from the Bay Area for a really long time, since the late 70’s, and when I returned four years ago I wondered whether Oakland had changed. Nope. San Francisco has become a tame, sanitized, over-priced suburb of Silicon Valley, but Oakland is still Oakland.
I’ve been pulled over twice by Tiburon cops, both times for speeding, and both times as guilty as hell. First guy let me go without even a formal warning because I shocked him by admitting that yes, I certainly was speeding. The second guy let me off because I think he had somewhere else to go and didn’t want to bother.
I’ve also over the years been let off by CHP – this, despite the fact that the motorcycle cop initially thought I was going to run him down. (I wasn’t, I was just in a hurry.) And I have the unusual honor of having been let off by Italian cops (twice) and French cops (once,) I assume because none of them could figure out how to write me up for driving a Toyota RAV with a single NC plate. (Both plates are de rigeur in Europe for speed cameras.)
But I’ve been ticketed in the Chicago area and in Virginia, where the guy actually wrote me up for reckless driving, which apparently is like 20 miles over the speed limit. Like that should be a thing.
My one interaction with Oakland cops: I used to assistant manage a Sambo’s in Oakland. Had some really obnoxious customers who I evicted and who then threatened me verbally. So, I had a steak knife in my pocket which I believe I may have threatened to place in the one guy’s neck. OPD shows up, pulls me aside and while firmly shaking their heads “no,” asked me, “You didn’t have a knife, did you?” Turned out no, I did not have a knife.
Even when I was arrested (burglary) I was treated very gently. In fact, at the Martinez jail the booking officer knew me from the antique shop where I worked and asked me to keep an eye out for an oak roll-top desk.
So, despite being a serial speeder and erstwhile burglar, I’ve always been treated well by cops. But then, as you can see from the picture, I’m of the pale persuasion.
The public sector police unions will claim otherwise.
Support the law enforcement bill of rights.
i didn’t keep up with this case but its pretty weird that the cop just got off with nothing, the family will sue and win but still, the guys dead and he shouldn’t be.
No. It’s not weird. It’s not weird at all. THIS is what I, and many others, have been trying to get you the F**K to see previously.
This happens all too often.
On another thread on this website, I listed 21 different young black men killed by police the last few years with ZERO repercussions.That’s only a partial list. I directed that post directly to YOU, Bill.
YOU ignored it. YOU, and people like you, who choose to admit or even see there is a problem, are a LARGE PART OF THE EFFIN PROBLEM.
So, no. It’s not weird. It’s normal.
Last couple of months alone: John Crawford, Ezell Ford, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner.
All killed by white cops.
All killed with no repercussions for their killers.
So, no. It’s not weird at all. It’s normal. Because people like you don’t see it as a problem.
Is it wrong that the police officer wasn’t indicted for something, even negligent homicide or manslaughter? Hell yes. There’s video, with audio, that shows the overreaction of the police and that Mr. Garner wasn’t violent or threatening. His “resisting arrest” was comprised of him telling them not to touch him and pulling his hands away. I cannot imagine what possible mitigating evidence this grand jury could have possibly seen that would allow such a decision, given the video.
Saying that, I don’t think it had anything to do with the color of Mr. Garner’s skin. I think it was just some a-hole cop with an attitude that demanded that others bow to his demands. What happened would probably have happened if Mr. Garner had been white. I think the bar for any type of federal civil rights charge will be too high to meet in this particular circumstance, but I hope his family is rewarded with millions of dollars in a civil judgment and that the officers involved in this incident are at least demoted, if they can’t be fired outright.
Only white folks are surprised by this. Black folks know damn well it’s coming.
You don’t get out much, do you?
Virginia is notoriously harsh with their speeding and DUI laws. It is also the only state to outlaw radar detectors.
a long time ago, I got caught doing 100+ in a 55. DA initially offered my attorney a plea deal with 3 months in jail, 1000 dollar fine and 6 months no drivers license…
ended up with 5 days in jail, 500 dollar fine and 6 months no DL.
anything over 20mph the speed limit is reckless driving.
anything over 90 MPH is automatic jail time
With all due respect, THIS is what white cluelessness looks like. I know you don’t mean it, but that’s what it is.
What i’m finding surprising/encouraging is the number of conservative who are outraged about this. I’m probably being too optimistic but maybe some will wake up to what’s gong on.
Yes. Exactly. If it really was weird no one would be upset.
anything over 15-20 above the speed limit tends to be reckless driving in a lot if not most states.
You know what Fox is focusing on tonight?
Don’t believe me? Watch.
Megan Kelly did FOUR segments on Ferguson, two on Garner.
Growing up, I thought the movie “Higher Learning” was over the top.
Especially the scenes where the (all white) police force goes out of its way to pander to the white college students, to the point of viciously beating a black student who heroically/suicidally tried to attack the white supremacist shooter, while attempting to make every effort to calm/de-escalate the white supremacist from committing suicide. One white cop screams “NOooooooooooooooo!” when the white supremacist student kills himself.
I thought John Singleton was being over the top.
I’ve come to learn that he was exactly spot on.
When I was in high school, we had a pretty hot basketball rivalry going with Drake. During one game, a pretty decent brawl broke out, both teams and quite a few fans out on the floor with perhaps half a dozen actual fights going on.
We had the best player in the league, a 6’7″ black guy with a huge afro. I had smoked quite a few bong loads before the game, & had no desire to mix it up, so I stayed in my seat observing. Every single cop at the game was restraining the black dude, in spite of the general mayhem. Every. Single. One.
Meanwhile, I got let off the hook in every single encounter I had with the cops while I was growing up.
According to the foxnews.com homepage, this is the most important story in America tonight:
I grew up in Virginia and moved to Texas a few years back. Got pulled over for going 24 mph over out here. I thought I was going to jail… turns out that it was just a normal ticket in Texas.
There is only like 5 states that charge reckless driving for going 20 over the speed limit. 25-30 is where you start getting into more and more states. But even then I don’t think it’s half.
@Console: Well for Illinois it used to be 15. It’s been over a decade since I’ve looked into that stuff.
@Stonetools: We don’t need the Federal government coming in and stirring things up.
I concur with the sentiment wholeheartedly. But how would we change the law here? Officers are being charged with crimes already on the books and the citizenry, personified by the grand jury system, are siding with the police. The problem is that citizens bend over backwards to side with police because they, not unreasonably, see them as a “thin blue line” of brave men risking their lives to protect the rest of us from the bad guys. That too many cops are themselves bad guys is tragic, but most citizens are blind to it.
@Tyrell: @Tyrell: The song of the south. Not the Disney version, the actual south.
1. Have each state set up a special prosecutor’s unit dedicated to prosecuting cases of local and state police misconduct, complete with its own investigators.
2.Change the laws regulating police use of deadly force. Limit it only to cases where objectively considered the police officer or a civilian is in danger of death or grievious bodily harm.
3. Take police misconduct cases out of the grand jury process. Handle those cases by having the prosecutor file charges by way of a criminal information..
4. Have police misconduct cases reviewed by a civilan review board with the power to recommend charges.
These are a few ideas. There maybe others. This is a problem that can be fixed, given the political will.
@James Joyner: Someone in an earlier thread suggested automatic special prosecutors, someone from outside, not beholden to the local police. FL did this with Zimmerman. The special prosecutor didn’t get a conviction, but at least there was a trial, with attendant airing of the evidence. A small step forward. If nothing else, in our system a trial inevitably involves long delay and time for cooling down.
I used to regard this as largely an issue of culture, particularly police culture. That the police used to take more of a “Dragnet” style professional attitude. But militarization of the police in response to the War on Drugs, along with low pay, short budgets, and poor training had affected them. But I happened to have been reading Nixonland the last few weeks. Perlstein spends a lot of time on the urban riots of the sixties. The cops and the courts were, if anything, worse. He quotes a lot of statements of white reaction. They sound like they came out of any RW blog discussion of Ferguson.
Most of your suggestions are already the case. They don’t work when the entire system is populated by people more interested in protecting the system. How do you get someone to effectively prosecute a case they don’t actually want to effectively prosecute?
Of course Jack has a point.
It’s right there on top of his hood.
@T: I’m dismayed that your driver’s license was only pulled for 6 months.
From what I’ve seen the chokehold wasn’t what killed him since he was able to talk when it was applied and he was still alive when it was released.
What killed him was an officer on his back which combined with his weight and asthma did him in. I think focusing on the chokehold is missing the more relevant question of what the police should have actually done.
They didn’t shoot him, taser him or hit him with their nightsticks once he wouldn’t agree to being handcuffed. So the question remains, what should the police have done once he refused to be handcuffed? How do you get handcuffs on someone who isn’t cooperating is the real question that I see from this episode.
(Ideally they should have cited him and let him go. If he ignores enough court summons then that’s a different issue to address.)
If you have a heart condition and severe asthma you have to also take some responsibility for your actions. Don’t get in hassles with the police. It’s not going to end well for you.
Jaywalking = Dead black man
Toy gun = Dead black child
(alleged) cigarette sales = Dead black man
Maybe the cops need to be professionals and figure out how not to have minor incidents end with a body on the sidewalk.
Our neighborhood has had a recent string of robberies: break- ins, lawn mowers, bicycles, and hub caps stolen (someone probably stealing to support their drug habit). If a burglar is breaking into my house in the middle of the night, I want a policeman who does not have to worry about the federal government looking over their shoulder.
Too early to tell what exactly happened, but another unarmed black man shot.
Attacking a cop = Dead black man
Waiving an exact replica of a gun around = Dead black child
Resisting arrest w/heart condition & asthma = Dead black man
We have Wilson’s word on this. His record is shaky, and his claims about the Brown confrontation prove him to be a liar.
Funny, I had lots of toy guns when I was a kid, as did all the guys I grew up with. We played with toy guns constantly when we were of that age. None of us were shot. Tell me something, if brandishing a toy gun is a death sentence, WTF do we allow them?
I watched the video & saw nothing that justified the escalation the police demonstrated throughout the incident.
I didn’t see anything either. The video, at least the first one linked to on this page, had some talking then a cut to the arrest and struggle. I don’t know if there’s a fuller video out there, but it’s tough to judge what happened based on this one.
It’s worth noting that the cops story about what happened was disproved by the video – video they were not aware of when they made their statements.
I think what happened to the child with the replica gun was a tragedy and he was too young to understand the ramifications of what he was risking. I don’t excuse the parents who let him have that toy, especially with the markings removed. The reality is it is dangerous for a black child to have a gun, whether that is right or not the reality is the reality.
Mr Garner should not have been arrested for penny ante cigarette selling. Cited and released would have been appropriate. But when the police decided to arrest him he should not have resisted. The reality is it is dangerous for a black man to resist arrest. Again that is the reality.
@MikeSJ: (And also Al-Ameada, who asked me a week or two ago about why I thought there was a link between police use of force and the ‘broken windows’ theory of policing)
My understanding of unofficial NYPD policy following the Guliani/Bloomberg era is that officers are strongly encouraged to go ‘hands on’ in order to check for guns and drugs during routine citations or even otherwise trivial interactions.
Which is obviously a terrible policy, but hey, I guess if it helps all the old people who watch 24 hours news channels (killers! in your neighborhood!) sleep at night . . .
@stonetools: Using your idea 2 Officer Wilson would be justified in what he did.
“Home security provided by Smith and Wesson”: sign on home.
Yes it is true that reality is full of racism even though there are some who want to deny that…
@An Interested Party: I don’t recall seeing any post where anyone here denies that racism exists, or even that there isn’t a significant amount of racism in ‘reality’.
I do see a lot of discussion and disagreement as to how much it comes into play in specific situations like Ferguson or New York, and with the specific individuals involved.
I’ve adopted the belief that everyone is racist, just varying by degrees of how racist.
I’ve been giving this matter a lot of thought, and done plenty of reading on the matter. And it deserves it; it’s a complex issue. I’ve broken it down into three areas.
1) “Government is simply a word for the things we decide to do together.”
In this case, we (meaning “the people of New York”) decided that selling “loosies” (single cigarettes) was illegal, as was selling tobacco at all without a license.
We (again, the people of New York) decided that violations of that should be treated by arrest.
We (through Mayor DeBlasio) decided there needed to be a crackdown on sellers of “loosies.”
The law was passed in the name of public health and raising revenue for the city.
When someone chooses to violate the law, they are subject to arrest.
When someone chooses to resist arrest, the police are authorized to use force.
So, “we” (the people of New York) set up the scenario where Mr. Garner died.
2) Mr. Garner’s death was, in part, the result of some very bad decisions he made.
When one is asthmatic, morbidly obese, and suffering from heart ailments, one should avoid getting into violent encounters. Especially with several trained and fit police officers. Mr. Garner had a lengthy arrest record, so he had ample opportunity to learn that resisting arrest is not a good idea. He also had been busted several times before for selling “loosies,” so he chose to continue breaking the law. He apparently also had had several encounters with the officers, so he knew they weren’t likely to cut him a break.
3) There obviously was no intent to kill or even harm Mr. Garner by the officers, so any murder charge would be ludicrous. And they had no way of knowing his underlying health issues that were a major factor in his death.
But that he lay there, dying, while no one offered him any medical assistance or even checked to see just how distressed he was could qualify as negligent homicide. And while there may be no criminal liability, there certainly should be civil liability for his death.
@Moderate Mom: His “resisting arrest” was comprised of him telling them not to touch him and pulling his hands away.
That’s pretty much a textbook definition of “resisting arrest” — they were placing him under arrest, he resisted their putting him under arrest.
@Jenos Idanian #13: I won’t argue with most of your logic, but I see two problems, One in conclusions in item 3, and the other in omission. The City of New York PD had institutionally decided that a choke hold was dangerous, and informed and/or trained its officers not to use it. For the officer to use it (probably in any situation other than self-defense, which doesn’t apply here) brings murder back into play. Most likely manslaughter, in my opinion.
The omission part is that your comment doesn’t address the degree to which prejudices did or did not change the actions of the officers, or in the Grand Jury decision not to charge. Hard to determine with examining the track record and history of those involved. Though, as you are aware, many of the commentors above will tell you its easy to determine that race was a major factor.
@rodney dill: One fact that should — won’t, but should — defuse the racial element is that the senior officer present was black. Also female.
What I am bothered by is the automatic assumption of racial bias. I believe in “innocent until proven guilty,” and the burden is being placed on these officers to prove they are not racist. It seems that all the accusers need to make their accusation is the color of the parties’ skin.
He did not have “a gun” – he had a toy.
I understand it was an airsoft toy pistol that had the orange markings removed.
It was an exact replica of a real pistol.
@MikeSJ: “I understand it was an airsoft toy pistol that had the orange markings removed. It was an exact replica of a real pistol.”
Right. And if it had been a white man with a real gun and the police had done so much as ask for ID, all the right wingers here would have been going crazy over the vicious violation of second amendment rights. But since it’s a black kid, it’s all his fault for having toy.
Yeah. A replica. Like at the Cliven Bundy ranch. As you recall, dozens died.
Earlier you said:
Now you are saying:
So what’s the deal? Were you lying earlier about “having a gun”? Or did you just not take the time to discern the facts before you blamed the dead child for what happened to him?
I note that you seem to be ducking the issue of multiple lies told by the police who responded to the call & shot Tamir Rice.
I don’t think he’s victim blaming so much as pointing out an unfortunate reality. It is dangerous for an African American, even a child, to be seen with anything that appears to be a real gun. This shooting reinforces that.
An unrelated unfortunate reality is that it is dangerous for women to leave their drinks unattended when out. That doesn’t mean it is their fault if they are drugged, but it does mean that this is something a responsible parent will warn them of.