UDPATED at 6:15 p.m. EST | A grand jury in New York City will not indict NYPD police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of unarmed, 43-year-old Eric Garner.
According to the Associated Press, in July, Garner — a black man — was stopped in Staten Island by Pantaleo — a white officer — “on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.”
Video of the incident showed Pantaleo putting Garner into an apparent chokehold after he refused to be handcuffed. Garner is heard telling Pantaleo “I can’t breathe” during the struggle.
Warning: This material may be disturbing to some viewers. Video from NY Daily News.
The grand jury has deliberated for months. The announcement comes less than two weeks after a grand jury in St. Louis announced their decision not to indict white police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of black, unarmed, 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
NYPD Chief Joanne Jaffe tweeted the following shortly after the decision came out:
— Chief Joanne Jaffe (@NYPDCommAffairs) December 3, 2014
Pantaleo released this statement:
I became a police officer to help people and to protect those who can’t protect themselves. It is never my intention to harm anyone and I feel very bad about the death of Mr. Garner. My family and I include him and his family in our prayers and I hope that they will accept my personal condolences for their loss.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio urged for non-violent protests following the grand jury’s announcement:
… Today’s outcome is one that many in our city did not want. Yet New York City owns a proud and powerful tradition of expressing ourselves through non-violent protest. We trust that those unhappy with today’s grand jury decision will make their views known in the same peaceful, constructive way. We all agree that demonstrations and free speech are valuable contributions to debate, and that violence and disorder are not only wrong – but hurt the critically important goals we are trying to achieve together …
“Black lives matter,” de Blasio said. “It’s a phrase that never should have to be said. But it does have to be said.
During a speech at the White House Tribal Nations Conference, President Barack Obama said:
We are not going to let up unti we see a strengthening of the trust and a strengthening of the accountability that exists between our communities and our law enforcement.
Across social media, people have voiced outrage over the grand jury decision with Garner’s words of #ICantBreathe. And demonstrations have begun in New York City.
— Keegan Stephan (@KeeganNYC) December 4, 2014
— Wilson Dizard (@willdizard) December 3, 2014
— Nicolás Medina Mora (@MedinaMora) December 3, 2014
The Department of Justice will conduct a civil rights investigation into Garner’s death.