USA Today reports, the Justice Department will not bring federal charges against the officer, “The decision, described by a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to comment publicly, marks the end of a civil rights probe.”
The city medical examiner said Garner’s cause of death was “compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.” However, the lawyer for Pantaleo and the police union have denied that a choke-hold maneuver was used that is banned by the NYPD.
The Garner family is still waiting for the decision for the administrative NYPD trial to determine if Pantaleo could still be a police officer.
The trial ended on June 6 after a handful of delays since it began more than three weeks ago. The Civil Complaint Review Board (CCRB) repeated its stance to for Pantaleo to be fired.
“CCRB recommends a penalty of termination without his pension,” prosecuting lawyer Suzanne O’Hare said as part of her closing arguments. “Officer Pantaleo forfeitured his right and privilege to be a police officer in the city of New York.”
One seemingly damning fact revealed from the trial was the fact that an NYPD officer admitted that he trumped up the charges against Garner in an effort to justify his chokehold death.
“Officer Justin Damico testified that after riding in an ambulance with the dying Garner, he went ahead on his own and filled out arrest papers listing a felony tax charge that would have required prosecutors to prove Garner, a small-time street hustler, had sold 10,000 untaxed cigarettes,” the Associated Press reported.
Earlier in the trial, it was also revealed that NYPD Lt. Christopher Bannon was texting with another officer shortly after Pantaleo’s violently killing in Staten Island, where Garner was rushed to Richmond University Medical Center. When Bannon was told that Garner didn’t have a pulse, Bannon texted back: “Not a big deal.”
Garner’s mother blasted what she called the NYPD’s “tricks” and “lies” during the trial’s first day on May 13.
“The day after Mother’s Day, to have to watch the video that the world saw of my son being killed, to be at this trial after five years, and to see all of the tricks that Pantaleo’s lawyers are trying to pull to avoid accountability, it’s really hard,” Gwen Carr said at the time.
Garner was approached by undercover NYPD officers on July 17, 2014, for the alleged offense of selling untaxed loose cigarettes. When officers failed at handcuffing him for the nonviolent misdemeanor, Pantaleo was caught on video with his arms wrapped tightly around Garner’s neck from behind. The chokehold ultimately killed Garner. The entire deadly episode was captured on cellphone video and filmed by a bystander. Garner’s final words “I can’t breathe” — became a rallying call for social justice advocates who saw his death as a murder.