On Dec. 3, 2014, a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict white police officer Daniel Pantaleo, 29, who put Eric Garner, 43, a 400 pound black man in a choke hold that allegedly led to his death.
Last July, Pantaleo approached Garner, suspicious that he was selling loose cigarettes. According to Huffington Post, after Garner denied the crime he resisted arrest, causing Pantaleo to perform the choke hold maneuver. Garner shouted eight times, “I can’t breathe” before dying on the sidewalk.
“The arrest was forceful, nobody can dispute that, but was the force excessive is the real question,” Andrew Dobrich ’15 said. “If, in fact, it was excessive force, it would appear as though the officer killed him without proper reason, but the lines between brutality, excessive force and proper procedure are easily blurred.”
Debate has stirred across the nation whether Garner’s asthmatic and overweight health background caused his death or if it was in fact the way Pantaleo held him.
According to New York Daily News, the autopsy found that “compressions to the chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police killed Garner.”
The entire interaction, including Garner’s death, was captured on video and has gone viral.
William Vester ’15 voiced his opinion after watching the video.
“While Mr. Garner was committing a crime by selling loose cigarettes, it appears that the reaction by the police far exceeded the magnitude of the crime. I think this gets at the fact that the police often feel unsafe even when making arrests for minor crimes and, while it is hard to blame them for this, we must make sure that they are accountable for their actions.”
Even though some people like Dobrich thought that the phone video was enough to indict Garner, the jurors decided that there was not enough evidence to go forward with the charges.
History teacher, Jon Shepro has refrained from forming a complete opinion until the jury releases everything they know to the public.
“Without knowing or being in the room and hearing all the evidence, it’s too difficult to voice an opinion,” Shepro said.
As the story continues to unfold, Inklings will update this article and provide newly released information.