US attorney: Garner case is now closed

Top Stories
Courtroom and Gavel Image_3504

(AP) – The U.S. attorney for eastern New York says an exhaustive investigation has found there is “insufficient evidence” to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the officer who arrested Eric Garner violated his civil rights.

U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue announced Tuesday that the government’s investigation into Garner’s 2014 death “has been closed.”

Prosecutors told Garner’s family about the decision earlier Tuesday.

The Rev. Al Sharpton calls it “a moral disgrace” and “judicial malpractice.”

Officers were attempting to arrest Garner in 2014 on charges he sold loose, untaxed cigarettes outside a convenience store. Garner refused to be handcuffed, and officers took him down.

A medical examiner found a chokehold contributed to his death.


11:05 a.m.

Mayor Bill de Blasio says it was a “mistake” for New York City to wait years for federal prosecutors to investigate the death of Eric Garner before beginning disciplinary proceedings against the officer accused of putting him in a fatal chokehold.

However, de Blasio did not say whether the city intends to fire Officer Daniel Pantaleo.

Prosecutors told Garner’s family on Tuesday that the government won’t bring civil rights charges in his death.

The Rev. Al Sharpton calls the decision “a moral disgrace” and “judicial malpractice.”

De Blasio, a Democrat and a presidential candidate, said reforms over the last five years have improved relations between the city’s police and communities.


11 a.m.

A senior Justice Department official says Attorney General William Barr ultimately decided not to side with prosecutors in the Justice Department’s civil rights division who wanted to charge the officer in Eric Garner’s chokehold death.

The official says Barr had been briefed multiple times and watched the video himself several times. The official says he made the ultimate decision to side with federal prosecutors in New York who did not want to charge Officer Daniel Pantaleo.

The official was not authorized to discuss investigative matters and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

The official says authorities watched the Garner video “countless” times but weren’t convinced Pantaleo acted willfully in the seconds after the chokehold was applied.

The official says that prosecutors had to examine Pantaleo’s state of mind and that it would be a “high standard” to prove the case to a jury. Prosecutors also considered whether he violated NYPD’s policy on chokeholds.

  • Colleen Long in Washington

10:40 a.m.

The Rev. Al Sharpton says Eric Garner’s family has been told that the government won’t bring civil rights charges in his death – a decision he calls “a moral disgrace” and “judicial malpractice.”

Sharpton spoke at an emotional news conference after the family met with prosecutors in New York on Tuesday.

He says the decision shows that people’s federal civil rights are not protected “no matter what the evidence is.”

Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, says the government “has let us down.”

Officers were attempting to arrest Garner in 2014 on charges he sold loose, untaxed cigarettes outside a convenience store. Garner refused to be handcuffed, and officers took him down.

A medical examiner found a chokehold contributed to his death.


9:45 a.m.

Federal prosecutors won’t bring civil rights charges against a New York City police officer in the 2014 chokehold death of Eric Garner.

That’s according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke Tuesday to The Associated Press. The person wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Officers were attempting to arrest Garner on charges he sold loose, untaxed cigarettes outside a Staten Island convenience store. Garner refused to be handcuffed, and officers took him down.

Garner’s dying words, “I can’t breathe,” became a rallying cry for police reform activists.

A state grand jury refused to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo on criminal charges.

Chokeholds are banned under police policy. Pantaleo maintained he used a legal takedown maneuver called the “seatbelt.”

The medical examiner found a chokehold contributed to Garner’s death.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.