UPDATE: 4:00 PM EST
Mayor Bill de Blasio has released a statement regarding the non-indictment of NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo:
A grand jury has decided not to indict the officer who used an illegal and fatal chokehold on 43-year-old father Eric Garner in July.
It is unclear if the officer cleared of charges, Daniel Pantaleo, will return to law enforcement duties. On Wednesday afternoon, Pantaleo released a statement on the non-indictment that also addressed Garner’s family.
Shortly after the decision not to charge Pantaleo came down, NYPD Communications Affairs tweeted this:
The grand jury could vote as early as Wednesday, according to a police union lawyer.
In the Garner case, Stuart London, the lawyer representing Officer Daniel Pantaleo, said late on Tuesday that the Staten Island district attorney, Daniel M. Donovan Jr., had not told him when the grand jury would vote on an indictment, but that it would quite likely come this week, possibly as early as Wednesday.
Officer Pantaleo is the only officer facing indictment. The other officers caught on tape during the incident have been granted immunity. Pantaleo was the last to testify.
If you recall, Garner was approached in July for allegedly selling loose cigarettes on a sidewalk near the Staten Island Ferry. Pantaleo and the other officers involved attempted to arrest Garner, who, during the incident, was vocal about being racially profiled by the NYPD. Pantaleo wrapped his arm around Garner’s neck — a restraining tactic that has been deemed illegal by the department. On the disturbing video taken by a bystander, Garner can be heard telling the officers that he couldn’t breathe.
But even with that video evidence (paired with a medical examiner’s ruling that Garner’s death was a homicide), legal experts say murder charges would be unlikely.
Officers are generally given wide latitude to use force, though Police Department policy specifically prohibits chokeholds.
But a lesser homicide charge could be possible, legal experts said, including second-degree manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide.
The NYPD is said to be bracing for the decision, citing the recent unrest in Ferguson over the failure to indict Officer Darren Wilson for killing an unarmed black teenager as reason for their preparation.
We’ll keep you updated with the latest.
SOURCE: NYT | PHOTO CREDIT: Facebook