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Report: DOJ moving towards charges in death of Eric Garner

Report: DOJ moving towards charges in death of Eric Garner

After local grand jury refused to indict in the “I can’t breathe” case

The death of Eric Garner was one of the more emotional videos.

One of the issues was whether an illegal “choke hold” was used. Simply grabbing someone around the neck is not a choke hold.

A grand jury refused to indict.

Now, as reported by The New York Post, federal prosecutors intend to charge the policeman involved:

Washington-based federal prosecutors plan to aggressively pursue charges against NYPD cop Daniel Pantaleo for the chokehold death of Eric Garner on Staten Island, a law enforcement source told The Post on Tuesday.

“It’s going to happen sooner than later,” the source said of an indictment. “Washington wants to indict him.”

Federal investigators in Brooklyn were replaced by DC counterparts because of their reluctance to bring charges, the source said.

The New York feds are privately seething. They accused their Beltway colleagues of trying to “make an example out of Pantaleo” at any cost, said one source familiar with the case.

“We already … came to a conclusion which they didn’t like. It’s truly disgraceful what they’re doing,” the source said.

The alleged movement towards charges comes after a shake-up in the federal investigation, as the New York Times recently reported:

The Justice Department has replaced the New York team of agents and lawyers investigating the death of Eric Garner, officials said, a highly unusual shake-up that could jump-start the long-stalled case and put the government back on track to seek criminal charges.

Federal authorities have been investigating whether officers violated Mr. Garner’s civil rights in his fatal encounter with the police. But the case had been slowed by a dispute because federal prosecutors and Federal Bureau of Investigation officials in New York opposed bringing charges, while prosecutors with the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department in Washington argued there was clear evidence to do so.

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, who as the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York oversaw the beginning of the federal inquiry before her appointment to Washington, has been considering for months how to proceed.

In recent weeks, the F.B.I. agents who have been investigating the case were replaced with agents from outside New York, according to five federal officials in New York and Washington. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are no longer assigned to the case. It is not clear whether civil rights prosecutors from Washington will work alone in presenting evidence to a grand jury in Brooklyn and in trying the case if charges are eventually brought.

Here are links to some of our prior related coverage:

I thought Andrew Branca did an analysis of the choke hold at Legal Insurrection, but I can’t find the post.

But this video analysis covers the same material:


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Henry Hawkins | October 26, 2016 at 8:39 pm

They’ll lose and they know it. The process is the punishment.

It’s called “Politics”. hillary can point to her bro, obama, and say to the young black males that he/we have your back. It doesn’t make any difference if the people on the scene said it wasn’t a case. The people in DC say it was. This will give you some perspective of how a hillary WH will be run. If their ideology is not proven correct then they will change the facts. obama has done the same thing over and over and only yesterday claimed that obamacare was working as planned! George Orwell would be proud of the liberals in DC if he were around today!

    MattMusson in reply to inspectorudy. | October 27, 2016 at 9:04 am

    The Grand Jury would not indict and the local Feds would not pursue. So, the DPJ sends in the puppets from DC to work up a case against the white guy on the take down team.

I think its time for the Police to take a knee.

Nationwide, for just one month.

About time someone acted on the medical examiner’s cause of death: homicide

    The medical examiner also lied in the Freddie Grey case.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to tphillip. | October 26, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    You really have no clue what you are talking about do you? Homicide is when any human is involved in the death another human. The word that you would like to see is “murder” but since medical examiners don’t decide guilt so they use a term that gives no indication of guilt or innocence and that term is “Homicide”.

    Why do police call it the “Homicide Division”? Because calling it the Murder investigation squad sounds bad and isn’t terribly accurate, since not every case they investigate is a Murder.

    Garners autopsy clearly states that he had no damage to the throat or windpipe and right after saying; “Compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.” it also says he died due to acute bronchial asthma, obesity, and prone positioning.

    If you actually took time to look at the tape, yes the cop had his arm around Garners throat area, but never engaged a choke hold and his arm was only in that position for a matter of seconds.

    Basically Garner died because he was obese and had an asthma attack while resisting lawful arrest.

      NavyMustang in reply to Gremlin1974. | October 27, 2016 at 12:29 pm

      As a former beat cop, I used those same tactics more than once. There was nothing in that arrest that was overboard. Nothing. Mr. Garner simply needed to submit to the arrest and he would have been out of jail in about an hour. He and only he had full control of the outcome.

    Arminius in reply to tphillip. | October 26, 2016 at 11:27 pm

    I’m just curious. Why do you trolls think you’re clever when all you is show off how stupid? What are you, eleven?

    If I pump five bullets into another man’s chest, the cause of death on the death certificate will be homicide. That’s a medical determination. The circumstances surrounding the shooting will determine whether or not it’s a crime. That’s a legal determination. If I shot the guy while robbing his store it’s criminal. But if I’m the store owner and I shot the robber in self-defense it’s a justifiable homicide.

    You will not see words like “criminal,” “excusable,” or “justifiable,” on a death certificate. Whether I as the shooter walk away free as a bird or head to prison it doesn’t change the medical examiner’s ruling.

    You are ridiculous. Go back to school tomorrow and tell your pot-smoking Che t shirt-wearing friends that what you thought was such a killer argument wasn’t so great after all.

      Arminius in reply to Arminius. | October 27, 2016 at 1:32 pm

      Heh. I see some of tphillip’s pot-smoking, Che t shirt-wearing middle school classmates don’t like it when they get slapped down by the facts.

    inspectorudy in reply to tphillip. | October 27, 2016 at 3:27 am

    The medical examiner ruled it was heart failure that caused the death of Garner, not choking.

No damage was found to Garner’s neck, so there’s no more reason to charge this guy for harming Garner than there is to charge any of the other police on the scene. *My* pick for most responsible with be the EMTs, with second most responsible being the sergeant who wouldn’t allow the morbidly obese man who said he couldn’t breathe to sit up so that his no-doubt-bruised-or-worse chest (this photo doesn’t show anyone on top of him, but kneeling on top of the guy you’re cuffing is standard restraint behavior) didn’t have to move his own body weight to intake air.

Don’t worry, President Trump will soon straighten out all of this crap.

“I thought Andrew Branca did an analysis of the choke hold at Legal Insurrection, but I can’t find the post.”

I don’t recall one by Branca. About six months ago I did a fisking of lib talking points about BLM and went through each of the “racist” killings (Martin, Brown, Garner, Grey) to prove their narrative was a lie. Of course, I relied heavily on the excellent analysis by LI, but Garner stands out in my memory as the only case you didn’t walk through like the others.

I DO recall someone explaining this wasn’t a chokehold, but an armbar (or some similar term) that had slipped down as Garner was going to the ground.

    tom swift in reply to Fen. | October 26, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    Garner stands out in my memory as the only case you didn’t walk through like the others.

    The Garner case stands out in a lot of ways.

      sdharms in reply to tom swift. | October 27, 2016 at 5:29 am

      And one way it stands out is that police were enforcing a ridiculous law against selling loosies

        Jackie in reply to sdharms. | October 27, 2016 at 9:02 am

        I agree, it should be legal to sell cigarettes to school children. We need to get them addicted as early in life as possible. Also when Garner decided to resist arrest the Police should have realized that Garner was offended and should have apologized to him, bought a few loosies and left.

        And until you can get enough of your fellow citizens to agree and vote in people who will change the law, the police are charged with enforcing it. If you choose to resist, death is the hazard you voluntarily assume.

        Deciding you won’t obey any law is a choice. You have to decide if the price is worth it.

        Estragon in reply to sdharms. | October 27, 2016 at 5:34 pm

        Garner was blocking the storefront of a taxpaying convenience store owner, scaring away the customers with the junkies, whores, & homeless lining up for untaxed “loosies.” The owner has the right to be in business. He actually pays his taxes, had a business license, etc.

        Another example of “libertarian” idiocy. They are not for “freedom” so much as “license” for bad behavior.

        Gremlin1974 in reply to sdharms. | October 27, 2016 at 6:17 pm

        “And one way it stands out is that police were, doing the job they are paid to do by enforcing a law against selling loosies”

        There I fixed it for you.

But that was in the comments, not the OP

The officer in question was in the presence of TWO superiors including a supervising sergeant (a black female btw) who did not intervene. Unless both of them are charged as accessories, it makes no sense at all.

New York corruption battles it out with Washington corruption.

This is like the war between Iran and Iraq. The more damage they cause each other, the better for the rest of the world.

The problem that the feds face, in getting a conviction, is that it is going to be extremely difficult for the ME to explain how the actions of the arresting officer(s) directly resulted in the death of Garner. What the ME did is say that a combination of the neck compression, the chest compression during the handcuffing AND the prone positioning caused the death of Garner, largely duer to positional asphyxia. However, Garner was conscious and responding verbally to the officers and the EMTs who responded for several minutes after the neck compression and chest compression was released. In fact, Garner could be heard yelling that he could not breath. Now, if one can speak, especially yell, then there is no reason to suspect that he can not breath. This will call the ME’s classification into serious doubt and open a barn door for defense experts to shift the blame for Garner’s death on his physical condition and existing medical issues, not on the actions of the police officers. And, the use of force was justified because garner refused to surrender when notified of his arrest.

This is nothing more than another Freddie Gray prosecution.

Assuming it goes to trial, it’ll be jury trial, right?

    Sure, just like OJ Simpson. Also see “Bronx Jury”. Once they can force him into a courtroom, they can pretty much control the makeup of the jury pool. 12 BLM members will get the jury summons.

      Ragspierre in reply to SDN. | October 28, 2016 at 10:30 am

      “Once they can force him into a courtroom, they can pretty much control the makeup of the jury pool.”

      Wow. More of your nutty conspiracy bullshit…

    Milhouse in reply to tiger66. | October 27, 2016 at 10:37 am

    Unless the defendant asks for a bench trial, and the prosecution and judge agree. (In federal court a defendant has no right to a bench trial; the consent of all three parties is needed.

      Arminius in reply to Milhouse. | October 27, 2016 at 1:29 pm

      And what is the rationale for that? The Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial belongs to the defendant, not to the judge or prosecutor. State Attorney Marilyn Mosby is campaigning for restrictions on a defendant’s ability to waive that right and have a bench trial precisely because she wants to be able to empanel a lynch mob.

      I understand the founders knew the right to a jury trial is a vital defense against a tyrannical government’s ability to conduct show trials, but the ability to waive that right is a vital defense against rogue prosecutors and mob rule.

        Milhouse in reply to Arminius. | October 27, 2016 at 9:16 pm

        The sixth amendment protects a defendant’s right to a jury trial, not a right to a bench trial. Almost no jurisdiction outside Maryland recognises a right to a bench trial. It’s something MD made up in the 18th century, and it’s well-entrenched in MD law, but nobody else believes in it.

I suggest we start calling this the Zimmerman Maneuver. The Zimmerman Maneuver will be anytime that the entire investigative/prosecution team is replaced so that the desired outcome can be achieved.

Doubt they ever even charge….another pathetic attempt to increase demographics voter turnout for those not enthusiastic about Hildabeast.

Pardon me, since I have been only a paralegal for 20+ years in civil law I may not have the full story; but with the No Bill from the Grand Jury aren’t we bouncing around the lines of the 4th and 5th Amendments as to Double Jeopardy and self incrimination or because the DOJ has this all bets are off on constitutional issues.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to Tim. | October 26, 2016 at 11:34 pm

    Well I think, and I am no lawyer, that the difference is the DOJ won’t charge him with murdering Garner, they will basically charge him with being “extra mean for naughty reasons” during the arrest.

    Not being a lawyer myself, I seem to remember several major cases where multiple grand juries were unsuccessfully empaneled(??) before the prosecutor took the case to trial. One, I believe, was the Zimmerman case.

    Therefore, I’m fairly confident that a failed trip before a Grand Jury is not a Trial. It is, however, a good indication to the prosecutor that the probability of getting twelve jurors to vote guilty on the case is highly unlikely, considering he/she has just presented roughly the same case to a group of similar individuals who vote to proceed with trials an *extremely* high percentage of the time, and had even them reject his/her arguments.

    I.e. It’s political, and the counter-suit should be epic.

      Olinser in reply to georgfelis. | October 27, 2016 at 12:33 am

      Much more than that.

      A Grand Jury ONLY hears the prosecution’s case. No defense witnesses, no defense evidence, no cross examination.

      If a Grand Jury declines to bring a case you have literally zero case. The ONLY way you could possibly win a trial is with new evidence or rampant corruption.

        Milhouse in reply to Olinser. | October 28, 2016 at 10:47 am

        Or you just had bad luck with this grand jury and will have better luck with a different one, or with a trial jury. It happens.

    Ragspierre in reply to Tim. | October 27, 2016 at 3:49 am

    I don’t do criminal law, so take this with the proverbial salt…

    Double jeopardy only applies to facing the same charge on the same facts twice, if that makes sense. It is often the case that a federal crime differs enough from a state crime that the courts find there is no double jeopardy involved, and that would be the case here.

    Another point I’m less sure about is when jeopardy accrues. I seem to recall it can only come after a matter is adjudicated. That is, if you are brought before a grand jury and no-billed, no jeopardy has attached. You can be brought up again on the same changes on the same facts. Same with a mistrial, as that involves an abortion of the adjudicative process without a result.

    Maybe Chuck Skinner can correct me if I’m mistaken.

      Estragon in reply to Ragspierre. | October 27, 2016 at 5:39 pm

      In many states, jeopardy attaches once the jury is seated & charges are read; only a mistrial can prevent jeopardy after that and only after an innocent error like a jury problem, so if the prosecution causes or forces the mistrial, jeopardy is attached.

    Milhouse in reply to Tim. | October 27, 2016 at 10:44 am

    Two things you’re missing:
    1. A no-bill from a grand jury means nothing. Prosecutors can take a case to as many grand juries as they like until they find one that will indict. Ronnie Earls took three tries before he could convince a grand jury to indict Tom DeLay. A person is not in jeopardy until his trial has begun, i.e. the jury is sworn or the first witness is called.

    2. If Pantaleo had been tried and acquitted in a NY court, he could not again be charged in any NY court for the same facts. But that would not affect federal charges for a different offense, even if caused by the same facts.

    Bruce Hayden in reply to Tim. | October 27, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    The feds and the state are separate sovereigns, so there is no direct double jeopardy. Murder, per se (ignoring specific classes of people, such as Presidents), is not a federal crime. BUT, what is a federal crime is a deprivation of civil rights, which is presumably how a federal indictment would be brought. You and I pretty well can’t be doubly tried this way, but the cops are state actors, and, thus, capable of depriving someone of their civil rights.

Straight out of the Liberal Bill of Rights:

“The right of the people to a show trial shall not be infringed.”

I’m from Kentucky and don’t really understand the legal nuance of all the above.

But what I do understand is that I am amazed that I live in a country where there is a state with a city that sends four cops out to arrest someone because he’s selling cigarettes out of a pack on the street.

That blows my simple mind. That’s just unbelievable if anything in this world qualifies for that adjective. Absolutely incredible. Sell a cigarette? You die.

That’s what the discussion should be about – sh*t-brained, moronic laws.

    Stop spreading BS.

    He died because he resisted arrest and forced the cops to take him down and handcuff him.

    He had MULTIPLE points where he could have simply gone along with the police, paid a small fine, and been back on his corner in a couple hours.

    First he refused to let the cop responding to the initial call (yes, somebody CALLED THEM, they didn’t just randomly go out and find him) peacefully take him to the station.

    So he called for backup. Garner refused to allow them to take him in peacefully.

    Probably because he was out on bail on multiple other outstanding charges.

    So after several minutes the cops finally just took him down, handcuffed him, and arrested him.

    A cop tells you that you are under arrest. You refuse to come peacefully. What the **** did he THINK was going to happen? That they were just going to leave?

    Cops don’t write laws. They just enforce them.

      American Human in reply to Olinser. | October 27, 2016 at 10:57 am

      I thought he died from a heart attack while in the van on the way to be booked?

      The “I can’t breathe” narrative was tried until they found out that they let go of the choke hold and put him in the van and while there (without being choked), he went into cardiac arrest.

      Maybe I’ve got the thing wrong though.

      Isn’t DOJ going to bring civil rights violations against the cop(s), not charging them with Garner’s murder?

    Massinsanity in reply to The Old Radio Cat. | October 27, 2016 at 9:46 am

    Old Radio Cat is absolutely correct. My Garner died because of the state’s unquenchable thirst for tax “revenue”.

      Milhouse in reply to Massinsanity. | October 27, 2016 at 10:52 am

      Bull. It had nothing to do with the state, or with revenue. It’s a federal law, made on the premise that if the you have to buy a whole pack those who can’t afford it won’t smoke.

    Selling loose cigarettes is illegal everywhere in the USA. And when someone breaks the law, and shopkeepers complain about it, the cops come. In what part of Kentucky is that not the case? Are the KY cops so busy with major crimes that they have no time to come out on citizen complaints of minor crimes?

    Yes, it’s a bad law, but no more so than most of the laws that cops spend their days enforcing.

    Garner died because someone in his condition should not resist no matter who is attacking him. Whether you’re being arrested or mugged, if you’re in poor health don’t fight. Give them your wallet or your hands, whichever they’re asking for, because you can’t afford to fight and give yourself a heart attack, which is what he did.

    You don’t understand much, do you? The cops weren’t sent out to arrest Garner, they were in a street-sweep operation clearing all illegal activity. The shop owner had called in about Garner because he was drawing his pimps, whores, & junkies to buy the loose smokes, driving away the legitimate business’ customers, but the cops were already working the area.

    When the cops witness a minor violation, they aren’t supposed to look the other way just because some ignorant yahoo dislikes the law they are enforcing. When a taxpaying citizen’s rights are being violated, they have a responsibility to act.

Cat, he didn’t die from selling cigs, he died from resisting arrest.

When you empower police to make an arrest, you also empower them to use force when arrest is resisted.

Your main point is valid though – I’ve been “harassed” by police out doing quotas for county revenue. 5 different officers in one week, each trying to make quota (Montgomery County, MD). So I can sympathize with Garner for losing it. My understanding is the he was “known” and the police were always on his ass.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to Fen. | October 27, 2016 at 4:43 am

    If you are confronted by the police for breaking a law, regardless of whether you agree with that law, that you know very well you are breaking and have been arrested for breaking in the past, that isn’t harassment. Garner had been arrested multiple times for the same thing in the same area, so he knew good and well what would happen.

    Also, your quotas are nothing more than a myth. Many police departments require officers to have so many “contacts with the public” but the reason they have these is not revenue, its so they get out of their cars every once in awhile.

    Most of the cops around where I live know they can use me as a public contact any time. I am known as the “guy who tells you to be safe or wishes you a safe shift”. We talk for a few minutes and I go on. This has happened many times and most of the are aware that I carry. 2 of them actually as what I am carrying that day if I see them.

    Your hatred of police and authority does not truth make.

“Garner did not die at the scene of the confrontation. He suffered cardiac arrest in the ambulance taking him to the hospital and was pronounced dead about an hour later.”

I’m no doctor but if he died in the ambulance of cardiac arrest how can the cause of death be a chokehold? He had about five illnesses and was 350 pounds of fat. He had asthma, diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea that were all working against him. He had been arrested over 30 times before so he knew the drill. He knew that in about one hour he would be free again to continue his life of petty crimes. I too think it is horrible that a man could lose his life over selling loose cigarettes but that is not the reason. As with most black deaths by cops, it is the resisting that causes the deaths. This ME is like the one in Baltimore that made a big mistake and may eventually cost her her job. This one looks like he/she is responding to political pressure rather than facts too.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to inspectorudy. | October 27, 2016 at 4:31 am

    “if he died in the ambulance of cardiac arrest how can the cause of death be a chokehold?”

    To any reasonable person you can’t, but this is the DOJ White hate….I mean Civil Rights Division, so we aren’t talking about reasonable people.

    Milhouse in reply to inspectorudy. | October 27, 2016 at 10:57 am

    The “chokehold”, or rather the confrontation and stress of his resistance, caused the cardiac arrest. If he’d given himself a heart attack defending himself from a mugger, the mugger would be charged since the death would have resulted from his felony.

I’m left wondering what in the wide world of sports the feds would have to charge against the LEO? Excessive force is a possibility, and one of the very few I can think of.

That’s a very thin reed, it seems to me. Once the LEOs got him down and cuffed, they were downright gentle with him. They kept him on his side, and kept interacting with him until the EMS people came. Yes, sitting him up would have been better, but you can’t have perfect knowledge. Plus, there’s nothing to say the exact same results would not have occurred later. Mr. Garner was a cardiac time-bomb waiting to go off.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to Ragspierre. | October 27, 2016 at 4:46 am

    Now that I know that he died of cardiac arrest actually sitting him up could have made him expire right there. The difference in blood pressure from lying to sitting may have been enough to do it.

    But saying that an officer who just had his arm around the man is a chokehold is ridiculous. Why did the cop have his arm in that location, because Garner was to big for the cop to get his arm around anything else.

      Ragspierre in reply to Gremlin1974. | October 27, 2016 at 5:00 am

      There are several good YouTube videos demonstrating the fairly Yuuuug difference between a choke hold and the hold used by the LEO. A choke hold is a very specific thing, and it involves some skill to apply correctly. The force, areas of the arms used, on what parts of the target, etc. all show that no choke hold was ever employed against Mr. Garner. He was essentially bull-dogged.

    Oh, that’s easy; they’ll charge them with violating Garner’s civil rights by enforcing local law.

    Milhouse in reply to Ragspierre. | October 27, 2016 at 11:04 am

    If he had used an actual chokehold, contrary to NYPD policy, then he might be charged with misconduct by a police officer, and since that felony resulted in a death it might be murder. Of course there was no chokehold, but they might try to convince a jury that the term “chokehold” should be interpreted broadly rather than technically.

Eric Garner was a victim of what I call “Fat Guy In Police Custody Disorder”.

Ten Republicans voted for the confirmation of AG Loretta Lynch: Kelly Ayotte, Ron Johnson, Mark Kirk, Rob Portman, Thad Cochran, Susan Collins, Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, Orrin Hatch, and Mitch McConnell.

They share responsibility for this corrupt DOJ.

If Hillary can get away with mishandling classified material because the FBI found no intent (which wikileaks has exposed there was), how can they possibly indict this cop who really had no intent?

    TX-rifraph in reply to rokiloki. | October 27, 2016 at 10:39 am

    Logic is anathema to an SJW. The only facts one needs are the race and the political status of each individual involved. One then tests those facts against the proper narrative to see how to exploit the police (in this case) for political gain.

    If your moral compass or ability to think logically are still functioning, this SJW/DOJ process will make you sick. The vaccine for that is to sell your soul early in life or get a degree from a modern (not the old version) Ivy League college.

Now that Hillary’s case has been disposed of, the DOJ has plenty of time to attack the police.

Any trial will have a major problem: the defense will call the FBI agents and prosecutors who were against charging him, and have them explain to the jury, under oath, why they were against it.

What a load of crap. The trials will fail and the loser, as usual, will be the taxpayers.

Maybe they could ask Marilyn Mosby to join their team? It they do prosecute, I’m sure it will work out as well for them as the Freddie Gray case for Mosby and her team.

Enough of Obama and his henchmen already. This clown has abused his authority repeatedly to further his agenda. He is releasing dangerous, violent felons back onto our streets just because he can. He has punked the American people in their collective rectums without any lubrication and they are grateful for it. Hell, they will even vote for four more years of this shit because they are told that this is “progress”. Is it really this easy to trick people?