A Staten Island grand jury cleared an NYPD officer Wednesday in the chokehold death of 43-year-old Eric Garner during an altercation that was caught on video in July.
The panel voted a “no-bill” and dismissed all potential charges against Officer Daniel Pantaleo, according to sources.
The blockbuster decision capped weeks of investigation by the special grand jury, which was empaneled in September specifically to review evidence in Garner’s racially charged death.
It was unclear exactly what charges prosecutors asked the grand jury to consider filing, or how the vote went.
Under New York law, an indictment must be agreed upon by at least 12 members of a grand jury, which can have up to 23 members.
Cellphone video of Garner’s July 17 arrest shows Pantaleo wrestling him to the sidewalk on Bay Street, with the white cop’s arms wrapped around the neck of the black suspect.
On the ground, Garner was heard repeatedly yelling “I can’t breathe!” as Pantaleo and other cops held him down and handcuffed him.
The decision comes despite the Medical Examiner’s Office ruling Garner’s death a homicide caused by “compression of neck (chokehold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.”
Union leaders who are police denied that Pantaleo used a chokehold — the move is banned by the NYPD, and blasted the autopsy as a “political” witch hunt. Garner’s family plans to sue the city for $75 million on grounds including wrongful death, pre-death pain and suffering and civil rights violations.
They, along with other civil rights leaders have repeatedly called for a federal investigation into Garner’s death.
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