A grand jury in Staten Island declined to charge NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo Wednesday evening of any wrongdoing in the death of Eric Garner. The decision not to indict the 29-year-old, eight-year veteran cop sparks outrage from many New Yorkers including Garner’s widow. The New York Daily News reported that in an interview with Esaw Garner, she was disappointed. She continued to say that in the video the cop was wrong.
The 23-member grand jury decided to clear Officer Pantaleo, the only officer facing possible charges, of a crime due to lack of probable cause. Garner’s death was ruled a homicide according to the medical examiner who attributed obesity and poor health as a contributing factor to the 400 pound man’s autopsy report.
Jurors, comprised of 15 whites and eight blacks and Hispanics, had reviewed startling evidence over three months. Much of the evidence came from cell phone footage a civilian took of the incident capturing officers including Pantaleo surrounding the 43-year-old father of six in Staten Island. According to multiple sources, Garner resisted arrest after police alleged he had been selling unlicensed cigarettes. Possible charges against Pantaleo were not announced publicly, but an indictment for the embattled cop ranged from second-degree manslaughter to felony assault charges stemming from the July 17, 2014 altercation and later death of the Staten Island resident.
Pantaleo released a statement after the grand jury’s decision in which he expresses his condolences and prayers for the Garner family. The NYPD cop claims it was never his intention to harm anyone and that he became an officer to help and protect those who can not help themselves.
Cries across New York City erupted after the decision not to indict Pantaleo was revealed. Supporters, mourners and protesters rallied in Grand Central Station, Times Square, and at the memorial site for the ill-fated Staten Islander in Tompkinsville to show their disappointment Wednesday evening.
According to The Staten Island Advance protesters on the Island led a march to the 120 station house on Richmond Terrace shouting “No Justice, No Peace.” One protester told The Advance, “I’m ain’t [sic] worried about ISIS. I’m worried about the cops. They’re the real terrorists.”
Staten Island Borough President James Oddo said some “will agree with the results, and many will not,” but everybody in the borough should remain peaceful. NYPD officers were staged outside of the embattled cop’s home on the South Shore of Staten Island early morning Wednesday before the grand jury reached a decision.
While under investigation, Pantaleo had been on modified desk duty and his fellow officers, also seen in the amateur cell phone footage, were offered immunity in exchange for their testimony to the grand jury.
Later Wednesday evening after Pantaleo was cleared of charges, the man who filmed the July 17 incident, Ramsey Orta, was however indicted. Police cite Orta of weapons charges they say happened earlier that July. Although Orta denies the accusations, a grand jury indicted him with single felony counts of third-degree criminal weapon possession and criminal firearm possession charges. The amateur videographer denies the NYPD’s claim and says the charges against him are trumped up in retaliation to his now-pubic footage. Pantaleo still faces the possibility of losing his career as an officer with the NYPD. The family of Eric Garner plans to sue the city for $75 million in a wrongful death suit.
By Keeley Ibrahim
New York Daily News
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Photo courtesy of Dave Bledsoe – Flickr License
Photo courtesy of Tommy Miles – Flickr License