Image 01 Image 03

Eric Garner Tag

Five years ago, on this exact date, Eric Garner died while violently resisting lawful arrest for a petty crime. Yesterday the Department of Justice announced that there would be no civil rights charges against the police officer most associated with that arrest (although numerous officers were involved). This perfectly reasonable decision by the DOJ —- consistent with similar conclusions drawn by every other official review of this case, including that of a grand jury—has predictably led to confusion and outrage among the ill-informed, so it seems worth taking a moment to recollect the facts and law that apply to the Garner case.

Two New York City policemen were shot dead ambush style in their patrol car. The initial evidence is that it was a revenge killing, but caution that in such events initial evidence can be wrong. From The NY Post, Gunman kills self after 2 NYPD cops shot dead ‘execution style’ as ‘revenge’ for Garner:
Two uniformed NYPD officers were shot dead Saturday afternoon as they sat in their marked police car on a Brooklyn street corner — in what investigators believe was a crazed gunman’s execution-style mission to avenge Eric Garner and Michael Brown. “It’s an execution,” one law enforcement source said of the 3 p.m. shooting of the two officers, whose names were being withheld pending family notification of their deaths. The tragic heroes were working overtime as part of an anti-terrorism drill when they were shot point-blank in their heads by the lone gunman, who approached them on foot from the sidewalk at the corner of Myrtle and Tompkins avenues in Bed-Stuy. “I’m Putting Wings on Pigs Today,” a person believed to be the gunman wrote on Instagram in a message posted just three hours before the officers were shot through their front passenger window.

More ABC News Videos | ABC World News (Update) The murdered policemen have been identified as Rafael Ramos and Wenjin Liu.

As we reported, a coalition of student groups at Harvard Law School demanded exam delays due to student trauma over the Ferguson and Eric Garner grand jury refusals to indict. There was withering criticism, including here. HLS refused to budge, but did agree to counseling, meetings, and other steps. William Desmond, a third year HLS student who also is a Law Review Editor, defends the demand for an exam delay in The National Law Journal, Delaying Exams Is Not a Request from 'Coddled Millennials' (h/t Drew M.). Here's an excerpt:
... In essence, law students are being told to grow up and learn how to focus amidst stress and anxiety—like “real” lawyers must do. Speaking as one of those law students, I can say that this response is misguided: Our request for exam extensions is not being made from a position of weakness, but rather from one of strength and critical awareness. Although over the last few weeks many law students have experienced moments of total despair, minutes of inconsolable tears and hours of utter confusion, many of these same students have also spent days in action—days of protesting, of organizing meetings, of drafting emails and letters, and of starting conversations long overdue. We have been synthesizing decades of police interactions, dissecting problems centuries old, and exposing the hypocrisy of silence.

College Insurrection and others recently reported how the President of Smith College apologized to the student body for using the term "All Lives Matter" rather than "Black Lives Matter." A Cornell engineering student just tweeted to me about a similar statement from the Chief of the Cornell University Police, Kathy Zoner, in an all campus email. I checked my own email, and sure enough, there it was: Cornell Police #ALLLIVESMATTER That original message from the week before was:

Yes, I agree that #BlackLivesMatter. So do all other lives, including the lives of police (of all races) who keep us from the abyss. Remember Officer David Smith never lived to tell about enraged perp who stole his service gun. Someone started a hashtag, #PoliceLivesMatter. Seems worth retweeting some of these tweets, don't ya think?

A Grand Jury in Staten Island just issued a "No True Bill" in the death of Eric Garner. Via NY Times:
A Staten Island grand jury has voted not to bring criminal charges against the white New York City police officer at the center of the Eric Garner case, a person briefed on the matter said Wednesday. The decision was reached on Wednesday after months of testimony including from the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, who used a chokehold to restrain Mr. Garner, who died after a confrontation. It came less than two weeks after a grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., declined to bring charges against a white officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown. For days, the New York City Police Department has been readying for a new round of protests, which began in the city after the Ferguson decision and which were expected to continue and possibly grow if the grand jury declined to bring charges against the officer.
This CNN Video explains the case prior to the non-indictment announcement: The NY Post adds: