NYCLU Responds to No Indictment in Eric Garner’s Case: ‘Culture of Impunity’ in NYPD

December 3, 2014 Updated: October 8, 2018

After Staten Island Grand Jury decided Wednesday the police officer who used a chokehold maneuver on Eric Garner will not be indicted for Garner’s death, the New York Civil Liberties Union issued a statement Wednesday questioning the police department’s accountability and ability to prevent similar incidents.

“Unless the Police Department aggressively deals with its culture of impunity and trains officers that they must simultaneously protect both safety and individual rights, officers will continue to believe that they can act without consequence,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman stated in the release.

Garner died while being arrested by multiple officers after selling loose cigarettes on Staten Island’s Tompkinsville Street. The whole incident was caught on a video that shows police officer Daniel Pantaleo putting his arm around Garner’s neck–a move categorized as a chokehold by the medical examiner. The chokehold, together with Garner’s asthma, obesity, and diabetes, led to his death.

Chokeholds, though not illegal, are prohibited by NYPD’s own regulations. Pantaleo was stripped of his gun and badge as a reprisal.

The NYCLU called on the City Council to pass two bills currently under consideration that would require police officers to identify themselves when stopping a person and to obtain proof of consent before searching a person without a warrant or probable cause.

The city’s Police Commissioner Bill Braton called the bills unnecessary, while Mayor Bill de Blasio voiced “concerns” over them.

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