Another Black Man Murdered by Police; No Indictment

Another Black Man Murdered by Police; No Indictment December 4, 2014

Well this is really going to help the situation. A grand jury on Staten Island has refused to indict the police officers who choked an unarmed black man to death, despite the whole thing being on video, the coroner ruling it a homicide and the police admitting the choke hold is against their policies. I’m sure we’ll hear now how he was a “demon” who reminded them of Hulk Hogan so it’s all okay.

A grand jury on Staten Island voted on Wednesday afternoon not to indict a police officer in the July chokehold death of Eric Garner, according to someone briefed on the matter. See related article.

Mr. Garner, 43, died in July after officers tried to arrest him for selling untaxed cigarettes. The medical examiner concluded that a chokehold applied by Officer Daniel Pantaleo helped cause Mr. Garner’s death.

The decision was awaited across the country as tension lingers from a Missouri grand jury’s refusal last month to indict an officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson.

Mr. Garner was also black and unarmed. His fatal encounter with the police was captured on video, and his dying words, “I can’t breathe,” became a rallying cry for protesters against police brutality in New York.

Here’s the video of his murder. I dare you to try and justify this:


Guess who the federal prosecutor is for Staten Island? Loretta Lynch, Obama’s nominee for attorney general. This country is about to explode. And frankly, maybe it’s time it did.

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  • matty1

    Sorry I can’t bring myself to watch a video of a murder however important it is as a public record.

    Is there any conceivable way out of this shit?

  • busterggi

    matty1 – nope, this country has gotten too rotten to be fixed w/o a complete overhaul.

  • sugarfrosted

    Where are the Bundy Fans in this case? It’s the state trying to collect a tax and murdering someone for not paying. oh I forgot, Cliven Bundy was white. Nevermind.

  • mkoormtbaalt

    The idea of a grand jury is a good one, but its current implementation – along with the current incarnations of law enforcement and prosecution – is very deeply flawed.

    The prosecutor is the only one in the room with legal expertise and only has to convince 4 to 5 of 12 that s/he does not want to pursue a case. What incentive does a prosecutor have for trying a cop? That’s bad for work relationships where the prosecutor’s job is contingent on how much the cops are willing to work with them.

    As an aside, I am fairly certain that the Garner case was a state-level grand jury which means that Loretta Lynch as a US Attorney doesn’t have any sway in the case.

  • If anything, I blame the divisive race-baiters who keep filming these so-called “incidents”. Why did the “innocent” “bystander” Ramsey Orta stand back and film the whole thing instead of jumping in and helping to strangle the guy?

    If anything, he is the one to deserves to be indicted, even if it’s just for an unrelated weapons charge where he handed a gun to somebody. God willing, Justice will be served.

  • It’s starting to look like grand juries are being used as a means to avoid meaningful action while pretending to “get to the bottom of this.” Is it normal to refer every police killing to a grand jury? Didn’t there used to be a procedure to put a cop on admin leave pending an internal proceeding to determine whether he made the right decision? Of course, doing the latter would mean the department has to deal, publicly, with the accountability issues, which could be why the most indefensible police actions are referred to an outside body that can still be manipulated by the state.

    Whatever happened to firing cops who perform badly? The fact that this isn’t happening, strongly suggests the rot of racism, indifference and corruption is so deep that police departments are no longer able to control themselves.

  • Doc Bill

    Did you see the arms on that choke-hold cop? The guy was a moose! Garner was no possible match nor threat to those cops. It’s the relish with which the cops choked him out that got me. They found some harmless doofus and just took him out for sport.

  • Modus, the cops agree with you about those pesky bystanders — and they’re not kidding.

  • Had the man filming tried to intervene they would probably have slaughtered him too.

  • mkoormtbaalt

    @6 Raging Bee:

    The fifth amendment specifically states that all cases should appear before a grand jury. Though, the 14th amendment apparently does not cover that provision and Federal investigations do not use grand juries for misdemeanors. Every state has provisions for grand juries, but half use a hearing instead.

  • Doc Bill

    It must be a rush to abuse authority. Neighbor kid, white, Mormon, doesn’t even drink coffee, returning from a birthday party at 2 AM in his rich dad’s BMW 6-something. Pulled over at the bottom of the exit ramp by a waiting cop. Speeding and illegal lane change (failed to signal). They give the kid a field sobriety test which he passes. They want to take him down to the station for a blood test. Kid doesn’t want to go. No breath test, no blood test. He want’s to call his dad. Cops arrest him, take him to the station anyway. Kid spends a night in jail, car impounded. Dad, meanwhile, is going nuts trying to find out where his son is who didn’t come home and he finally locates the kid in jail around 5 AM, but can’t get him out until 10 AM when bail is set, which had to be paid in cash or cashier’s check. Bottom line: $200 to get car out of the pound. $500 bail ($450 returned after the ordeal) $4000 lawyer’s fee, $360 fine for speeding and improper lane change. Blood test results: ZERO

    There was absolutely no reason to arrest the kid and put him in jail overnight (IMHO). But because they could, they did. Slow night, I guess.

  • ShowMetheData

    Who represents the victim?

    This is a crime to use the grand jury system to avoid a trial altogether.

    If some of these murder-by-cop grand juries sometimes take two months to review the information – then you already have enough information to take to trial.

  • Grand juries are always used to endorse the prosecutor’s decision. Normally, the prosecutor is inclined to prosecute, because that is his job. But when a cop is the target of the investigation, prosecutors don’t want to prosecute. In either case, it is trivially easy to get a grand jury to do whatever you want them to do. Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo were not charged because prosecutors chose not to charge them. The jurors get the blame, but it’s the prosecutors who are responsible.

  • comfychair

    I have served on a grand jury, and it’s nothing but a rubber stamp for whatever the prosecutor already decided to do. They can drop charges against anyone for any reason at any point in the process before a case goes up for indictment, the only reason they present a case they do not want to prosecute is to shift the blame onto somebody else – the anonymous jurors.

  • ppb

    Ron Paul has it all figured out. It’s those awful cigarette taxes that led to Eric Garner’s death.

    My jaw dropped when I heard him say this.

  • Alverant

    Why the hell didn’t they indite? The cops used an illegal choke hold which directly led to a death. I’d call that felony murder.

  • The fifth amendment specifically states that all cases should appear before a grand jury.

    That wasn’t my question. I asked whether it was normal for police shootings to go to grand juries.

    ppb: That was Rand, not Ron. He’s a pathetic, small-minded, money-fetishist piece of shit, and his concern for individual liberty is at least as phony as the Pope’s compassion.

  • tbell

    It should be noted that the Grand Jury was convened by the Richmond County district attorney DA Daniel Donovan to consider state charges. Federal charges could still be brought by Loretta Lynch.

  • abb3w

    While a prosecutor can get a New York grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, they won’t indict the pig.


    The cops used an illegal choke hold which directly led to a death. I’d call that felony murder.

    Looking at the statute, clearly easily second degree manslaughter. However, for Murder-2, you need to show intent or depraved indifference — the latter of which might be possible, but seems an uphill fight.

  • Alverant

    #19 Considering the video shows the victim repeatedly saying he can’t breath, the cops standing around him doing nothing, and (since the cops knew him from before) they knew he had asthma I think that’s clearly depraved indifference.

    According to the grand jury they said his weight and having asthma were contributing factors which is why they didn’t indite. Again I say that’s bullshit. If a man robs a house and frightens an old woman so badly she had a heart attack, the robber doesn’t get to say, “Well her age and medical condition contributed to her death so I should get a pass.”

  • marcus

    I was going to comment that although this was obviously a wrongful death that it wasn’t necessarily murder, but I would have been wrong.

  • congenital cynic

    But, but, but America is now post-racial, so it really was an accident. They would have just as mistakenly choked a rich white kid to death for selling a tax-free smoke. I’m sure of it. I mean, cops killing rich straight white kids is in the news every day.

  • comfychair

    “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”

  • mildlymagnificent

    The idea of a grand jury is a good one, but its current implementation – along with the current incarnations of law enforcement and prosecution – is very deeply flawed.

    I’m not so sure that the grand jury system is “good” in a modern setting of professionally trained prosecutors. Is it used in any other advanced democracy?

    I suppose it’s a bit hard to make comparisons because so many countries use inquisitorial rather than adversarial trial processes. In Australia, our preliminary proceedings are conducted by professionals only, prosecutors, defending lawyers, magistrates – with the defendant present to correct the facts presented or to expose holes/flaws in the prosecution’s case – and only after establishing that there is “a case to answer” does the matter proceed.

    From my non-USAnian perspective, I see the grand jury system as a bit of a relic. I’d think it would be far better to have this check on the way to or not to have a trial to be conducted by professionals who know the law and the legal options or alternatives. (I should qualify that by mentioning that I’m adamantly opposed to the notion of electing judges, prosecutors, attorneys general, police chiefs or any other significant participant in the legal system in the first place, so my opinion may not be relevant to most Americans. No elected person should have any personal involvement in any individual proceedings – ever.)

  • jonathangray
  • Another comment by jonathangray so lazy and insultingly stupid one wonders if its even worth mocking. Here’s the important quote from the article cited:

    The Black female police sergeant is not shown in the countless replays in the media of cellphone footage that showed white male police officers confronting and taking down Garner but she is said to be seen in the video.

    Why does this black woman not figure prominently in the video? Because she’s not the one doing the chokehold and actually killing the guy.

    And the paragraph I just quoted is right below a photograph that proves the point. So no, you stupid little shit, there’s no “disturbance in the narrative” that gives you an excuse to find a black person to blame for this incident.

  • colnago80

    Re mildlymagnificent @ #24

    In the US federal system, judges are appointed by the president, approved by the Senate and serve for life or until retirement. However, grand juries are still used for investigative purposes and for indictments. In some states, the prosecutor has the option of using either a grand jury or a preliminary hearing, which is a mini trial where witnesses called by the prosecutor can be cross examined by the defense attorney. An example from California was the OJ Simpson case where it started as a grand jury investigation but then was transferred to a preliminary hearing before a judge. Defense attorneys are not allowed in grand jury hearings. The big advantage for a defense attorney in a preliminary hearing is that he/she can cross examine witnesses and nail down their testimony. The defense can even call witnesses for direct testimony, although that doesn’t happen too often.

  • DaveL


    I believe that in NY, all felony indictments must go through a grand jury.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    How long until we (at least those of us in Redneckistan) start seeing redwhitenblue bumper stickers saying, “Wilson/Pantaleo 2016”?

  • John Pieret

    DaveL @ 28:

    Yes, you are correct about NY law. Unfortunately, it does not save me from being ashamed to be a New Yorker today.