Eric Holder Announces Federal Investigation Into Eric Garner's Death
Although police officer Daniel Pantaleo won't be facing criminal charges for the death of Eric Garner, his legal challenges aren't over. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder launched a federal investigation into Garner's death on Wednesday night, which will look into any possible civil rights violations made by the New York Police Department. This latest DoJ probe is similar to the ongoing federal investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Holder vowed to provide an "independent, thorough, fair and expeditious" investigation into the disturbing incident, which was captured on video. The attorney general added that these recent cases of African-American men dying at the hands of white police officers were not "a Ferguson issue" or a "New York issue," but affect all Americans from all communities. "All lives must be valued," Holder said. "All lives.
The Justice Department's move comes on the heels of a Staten Island grand jury's decision not to indict Pantaleo for using excessive force against Garner. Holder said the Justice Department has been "monitoring the local case closely," and will review the material gathered from the months-long probe.
Garner, a 43-year-old Staten Island resident and father of six, died on the street of his Tompkinsville neighborhood after Pantaleo placed him in a chokehold and pushed him against the sidewalk with the help of several other police officers. The New York Medical Examiner ruled Garner's death a homicide.
Earlier on Wednesday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio assured residents that he would cooperate with the federal investigation. The mayor has already been briefed about the pending investigation.
Just a week after a grand jury in St. Louis County chose not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, tensions are high across the country, with unrest in Ferguson having just calmed after days of marches, sit-ins and riots. Holder spoke to the unrest, acknowledging that Brown's and Garner's deaths "have tested the sense of trust that must exist between law enforcement and the communities they protect."
The attorney general also encouraged people to continue holding demonstrations, but urged protesters to remain peaceful. Holder called for non-violent protests and advised demonstrators to "not engage in activities that will deflect our attention."
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