The good news is we’re on step closer to getting justice for the police killing of Eric Garner in 2014.
The bad news is that the decision to charge the cowardly cop who killed him with an illegal chokehold will be left up to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose past of racial discrimination has been well documented.
The federal prosecutors for the Justice Department (DOJ) who investigated the brazen, broad daylight killing have recommended that the officer who choked the unarmed Garner be charged, according to the New York Daily News. But those charges against Officer Daniel Pantaleo can’t become a reality unless Sessions allows the DOJ to move forward.
“Rev. Al Sharpton and National Action Network (NAN) are cautiously hopeful that federal civil rights prosecutors have recommended charges against New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo for the killing of Eric Garner and are calling upon Attorney General Jeff Sessions to follow the recommendations,” NAN said in a press release Friday afternoon. “Rev. Al Sharpton and National Action Network (NAN) have been in the forefront of the fight for justice on behalf of the family of the unarmed Eric Garner since his death by chokehold in 2014 and have called for the Department of Justice to charge NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo with civil rights charges.”
Garner was killed nearly four years ago in Staten Island after officers accused him of selling untaxed, loose cigarettes in public. For that offense, Pantaleo used an illegal chokehold and killed him. The entire episode was captured on cellphone video footage and showed what appeared to be overzealous police officers swarming Garner, whose last words were, “I can’t breathe.”
Leaving the decision to prosecute Pantaleo up to Sessions is problematic for a number of reasons. But chief among them has to be Sessions’ history with the topic of race. He lost a nomination for a federal judge position in Alabama in 1986 for “joking about the Ku Klux Klan being ‘ok guys’ and saying that the NAACP was ‘un-American,'” Newsweek reminded readers.
If Sessions declines to prosecute, Black folks will be delivered a similar message that African-American lives don’t matter much, but especially in Donald Trump‘s America.