National Lawyers Guild – New York City Chapter (NLG-NYC) Condemns Failure to Indict NYPD Officer for Murder of Eric Garner
For Immediate Release
December 3, 2014 – New York – The National Lawyers Guild – New York City Chapter (NLG-NYC) condemns the failure of a New York grand jury to indict NYPD officer Danny Pantaleo for the murder of Staten Island father and husband Eric Garner. Though Officer Pantaleo was caught on tape using a chokehold on Mr. Garner -a dangerous technique that the NYPD banned in 1993 after numerous people were killed in police custody- the grand jury found that there was no probable cause to charge Pantaleo.
“As a former NYS Supreme Court Judge it is disheartening to know that in our system of justice a man can be strangled in the street and there are no consequences to the perpetrators,” said retired New York judge and NLG-NYC board member Emily Jane Goodman.
The police accosted Mr. Garner because they claimed that he was selling loose cigarettes. Mr. Garner’s death is yet another tragedy that evidences the failure of the neoconservative “broken windows” theory. New York Police Commissioner William Bratton embraces that theory, though it has only resulted in the over-policing of Black and Latino communities, and the incarceration of people in these communities for relatively minor infractions. The Chapter expresses its deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Garner.
The killing of Mr. Garner is no anomaly. The NYPD and police departments around the country routinely terrorize communities of color. The announcement by the grand jury in this case comes only a week after the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case, which sparked protests around the country and around the world. This passionate response is not merely in response to one man murdered, but to a legacy of extrajudicial killing of Black men and women in the United States. In 2012 the advocacy group Malcolm X Grassroots Movement published a report titled Every 28 Hours which documents the almost daily extrajudicial killing of Black people by police, security guards and vigilantes in the United States.
The NLG-NYC calls on the Department of Justice to bring charges against Officer Pantaleo. Further, the NLG-NYC demands that the NYPD respect the rights of people to protest.
The National Lawyers Guild, founded in 1937, is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States.