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NY Daily News On Refusal To Indict: 'We Can't Breathe'

"The grand jury’s apparent determination that Pantaleo had properly subdued Garner will ... intensify a belief that the justice system offers no redress."
NY Daily News On Refusal To Indict: 'We Can't Breathe'
Image from: nydailynews.com

The Daily News with a front page statement and an editorial on the decision of a grand jury not to indict in the choking death of Eric Garner in Staten Island:

The grand jury’s vote to exonerate the police officer whose chokehold killed Eric Garner on Staten Island has glaring earmarks of a gross miscarriage of justice.

The ruling is painfully far harder to understand than the Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict for the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

To a large degree, the evidence against Officer Daniel Pantaleo was widely scrutinized by the public in the form of a on-scene video posted to the Internet by the Daily News. The image of Pantaleo wrestling Garner to the ground with his arm around Garner’s neck was horrifying.

Even granting that a cop has wide latitude in using force to make an arrest, Pantaleo’s sudden aggressiveness was unnecessary. The fact that it entailed a chokehold only reinforced the excessive quality of his actions.

After the medical examiner found that a chokehold and chest compression led to Garner’s death, the connection between cause and effect seemed enough to many people not only to indict but to convict Pantaleo.

Deep, intense skepticism about the grand jury’s ruling is fully warranted — while recognizing that no one other than the panel and Staten Island prosecutors have reviewed all the evidence and matched the facts against the law.

[...] Lacking full facts, the panel’s determination that the evidence did not provide probable cause to charge Pantaleo with even New York’s least serious homicide count — criminally negligent homicide — is beyond mystifying.

In order to indict, the grand jury needed to find only that the weight of the evidence — a far lower burden of proof than beyond a reasonable doubt — indicated Pantaleo had failed “to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk” of death in using the chokehold.

[...] The grand jury’s apparent determination that Pantaleo had properly subdued Garner will heighten raw racial friction over the killings of black men by white cops here and elsewhere, and, still worse, intensify a belief that the justice system offers no redress.


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