The New York State Supreme Court will officially review how the NYPD handled its violent arrest of Eric Garner — an arrest that resulted in his death following an officer employing an illegal chokehold on the 27-year-old Black man in 2014. New York State Supreme Court Judge Joan Madden made the decision on Thursday, CNN reported.
“Although the arrest and death of Eric Garner has received considerable attention in the press over the past six years, many facts relating to his arrest and death, and the investigations and any disciplinary actions taken in response to his death, have not been disclosed to the public or to the family of Mr. Garner,” Madden wrote in her decision.
Garner’s mother has been fighting for this review for years and petitioned for a summary judicial inquiry, which CNN defined as “a procedure created by the New York City charter that allows for certain people to be allowed to petition a judge to conduct an inquiry into ‘any alleged violation or neglect of duty in relation to … the government or affairs of the city’ in which the people being investigated may be required to attend and be questioned.”
There were no officers held accountable for the chokehold killing that a bystander recorded in a video that showed an egregious example of police brutality during an arrest for the nonviolent allegation of selling untaxed, single cigarettes in public. Daniel Pantaleo, the main officer who placed Garner in the chokehold, was only fired in 2019 — more than five years after Garner was killed. Months later Pantaleo sued to get his job back.
The Staten Island grand jury and the Department of Justice inexplicably declined to bring any criminal charges against Pantaleo.
There is only one other police officer who faced any repercussions in the Garner case: a Black woman officer named Kizzy Adonis. She was forced to forfeit 20 vacation days. Adonis could only be seen standing in the background of the video on which Pantaleo choked Garner. Nonetheless, the New York Times reported at the time that, “The police commissioner found fault with her handling of the encounter, according to an official who requested anonymity to discuss the case because police disciplinary matters are confidential.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed last year that Garner’s family would have justice soon. At that point, of course, justice for Garner and his family had already been deferred for more than five years as New York City officials exchanged blame and Pantaleo continued earning his six-figure salary behind the safety of his desk duty.
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 recorded on cellphone video. Garner’s final words — “I can’t breathe” — became a rallying call for social justice advocates who have maintained that his death was a murder.