Family set to meet with Justice officials in chokehold case
NEW YORK (AP) — The family of an unarmed black man killed by a police chokehold is set to meet with Department of Justice officials with the outcome of the high-profile federal investigation of the case still unknown, the department confirmed Tuesday.
Eric Garner’s family said in a statement that the closed-door meeting would take place on Wednesday at a Brooklyn hotel.
“It’s really just to update the family on the investigation,” Garner family attorney Jonathan Moore said. “We’re glad to hear they are still investigating, and when they finally look at all the evidence we think the outcome will be inescapable.”
The family and civil rights advocates have been demanding that federal authorities bring a federal case against white Officer Daniel Pantaleo since a state probe ended without charges against him. But the Department of Justice indicated on Tuesday that no decision has been reached.
“As is common with an ongoing investigation, agents and prosecutors from the Department of Justice are meeting with the family of Eric Garner tomorrow,” the department said in a statement. “There are no new major announcements regarding the matter.”
Garner, who was accused of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, was stopped by police on Staten Island in 2014 and refused to be handcuffed. Pantaleo is seen on a bystander’s cellphone video putting Garner in an apparent chokehold, which is banned under New York Police Department policy.
The heavyset Garner, who had asthma, is heard gasping, “I can’t breathe.” He later was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Garner’s death sparked angry protests from people complaining about the treatment of black men and boys at the hands of white police officers, and his dying words became a slogan for the Black Lives Matter movement.
The medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide caused in part by the chokehold. But police union officials and Pantaleo’s lawyer argued the officer used a takedown move taught by the police department, not a chokehold, and said Garner’s poor health was the main reason he died.
A grand jury in Brooklyn has been hearing evidence in the civil rights investigation of Pantaleo.