I would have voted an emphatic ‘yes’ until seven minutes ago when a late-breaking story appeared citing very specific and damning Grand Jury testimony from witnesses leaked by unnamed ‘multiple sources’. More on that after some history.
The night after police viciously choked Eric to death on July 17, the NYPD released this narrative:
“On Thursday, July 17, 2014 at approximately 1648 hours, police observed a 43-year-old male selling untaxed cigarettes in front of 202 Bay Street within the confines of the 120 Precinct. Upon attempting to arrest the suspect for the violation, the suspect went into cardiac arrest and was transported by EMS to Richmond University Medical Center where he was pronounced DOA. The Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death. The investigation is ongoing.”
Well, yes. And such a coincidence it was that his heart went into arrest just then!
Even NYPD Chief Bill Bratton said soon afterward that police had put Garner in ‘an apparent chokehold’. The coroner called his death a homicide caused by the chokehold and chest compression, citing his asthma, obesity, and cardiovascular disease as contributing factors.
Several days ago the public was advised that the Grand Jury was about to reach a decision, but DA Daniel Donovan had no comment, and the media fell back to the ‘the decision might be released by the end of the year’ formula.
Curious, I poked around online and found several things that contributed to my belief that Officer Daniel Panteleo would not be indicted, the most important being that the Grand Jury for his case was empaneled on Sept. 27, meaning they have met for two months hearing evidence. The other was that it seems Panteleo testified for almost two hours on Nov. 21 according to NY.cbslocal.com, ‘giving his account of the videotaped death of Garner’, which seemed to as the signal that they were about to wrap up and vote. They also quote Panteleo’s attorney as saying that he was glad the jurors listened so intently to his testimony.
Now this is especially egregious to hear, given that it’s extremely rare for a defendant to appear before a Grand Jury, and may mean that those of us who feared that McCulloch’s similar shenanigans in the Darren Wilson case would become the standard for not wanting a cop indicted.
The police union and police benevolent society have all agreed that while his death was tragic, it was Eric’s obesity and asthma that caused his death, and er…it wasn’t a chokehold that Pantaleo had used, but…a new takedown maneuver.
One might reasonably ask why the hell cops were harassing Garner for selling cigarettes one at a time, but it was part of Commisioner Bratton’s ‘Broken Windows’ policy, as in: clamp down on small crime lest if grow into bigger, badder crime. Or some such. A new report finds it utter bullshit, not to mention most often aimed at minorities.
‘The Police Reform Organizing Project monitored 191 arraignments last month in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan and found that 91 percent of the defendants were people of color, the report said.
According to the article, 85 percent of the defendants had their case dismissed or received a minor penalty.
“The court had clearly decided that the person was not a risk to the community,” the Daily News quotes the report. “This kind of policing – effectively criminalizing activities that are victimless, and seen by most people as harmless, and disproportionately charging one group of persons as offenders – breeds cynicism, resentment and resistance and can lead, in worst case scenarios to senseless injury and death.”
Nice WTF? to Bill Bratton, eh? And let’s not forget: Eric Garner was attempting to break up a fight, and was not selling single cigarettes, although he seriously had been arrested for that nits grow into lice criminal act before.
But in the end, the leaked witness testimony that argues against Pantaleo’s ‘version’ see things quite differently.
From silive.com again, first witness mentioned:
The man said he told the group he had seen plainclothes officer Daniel Pantaleo in Tompkinsille Park, directly across from where Garner died, right before the incident.
The man claims he and Pantaleo saw Garner break up a fight between two men, and he said he thought Pantaleo was going to approach the two men before he saw him move in on Garner.
“I didn’t know he was a cop because he was in a jersey. I think No. 99,” the witness said. “I was standing with him in the street and saw Mr. Garner break up the fight. Then I saw the cops come down from Victory Boulevard and thought they were coming for the two guys. But they let the two guys go.”
The witness told the jury he then saw Pantaleo spring into action and come up from behind Garner and put him in a chokehold. Pantaleo can be seen in viral video using the banned maneuver on Garner while attempting to arrest him for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes. [snip]
An employee at one of the stores directly across from the park was subpoenaed and said he went in to testify last week. He said his testimony only lasted 10 minutes, and he explained to the jury what he saw.
“I told them I heard the banging at the window and saw the chokehold,” he said. “I saw a female cop telling him (Pantaleo) to get off him.”
He also told the jury the EMTs didn’t do CPR, he said. The four emergency workers were suspended after the incident. Two paramedics were cleared following an investigation, and two EMTs have been temporarily reassigned on a non-clinical basis at Richmond University Medical Center.
“Maybe if someone had did CPR, this could’ve been avoided,” he added.
So, given these alleged testimonies, who knows? This new video seems to corroborate that witness, as hard as it is to watch and listen. If you have any insight into what the balding cop leaning over Garner’s lifeless body, giving his shoulder aa bit of a slap, at about 1:13, I’d be interested. One wag volunteered that he reckoned that the jurors would be told that Garner had committed suicide by falling into Panteleo’s crooked elbow.
As reports began to surface that the GJ was nearing its decision, what would a good Police Commissioner do? You guessed it.
NYPD gathered intel on ‘professional agitators’ in Ferguson to prepare for ‘chokehold death’ decision at Raw Story.
‘To that end, the commissioner sent detectives to Ferguson to learn about the tactics of “professional agitators.” During the Occupy protests in 2012, the NYPD circulated “wanted posters” featuring mugshots of agitators that informed protesters to “be aware that subjects are known professional agitators” whose “MO” is to videotape officers “performing routine stops and post them on YouTube.”
Bratton added that the detective’s trip was routine. “We’re always and constantly networking and trying to make ourselves accessible and reaching out,” he said.’
The WSJ’s coverage via the AP wasn’t quite as incendiary, sad to say, but hey: the NYPD has friends among the protestors, and I reckon they mean Al Sharpton and his disciples.
It’s easy to become enraged at citizen assassinations by police, and the fact that almost none of the get indicted, much less serve time, and forget the pain, loss, and helplessness of a victim’s friends and family. Please take a few moments to share the pain of Eric’s wife, via policestateusa.com, the day after he was executed:
“I saw him with his eyes wide open and I said, ‘Babe, don’t leave me, I need you.’ But he was already gone,” said his wife, Esaw, who is the mother of their six children.
“When I kissed my husband this morning, I never thought it would be for the last time,” she told NY Daily News.
Blessing to Eric’s wife, children, and friends. May we collectively find ways to make his murder by police, and so many others’ as well…stop police brutality and executions. May all colors and cultures and races unite to fight the injustice (and they do seem to be, increasingly and thrillingly).
♥ May you going ever closer to the Light, Eric. ♥
(cross-posted at My.Firedoglake.com)