NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Relatives of a man who died in police custody earlier this month told Staten Island’s district attorney Monday that they want federal investigators to take over the probe into his death.
As CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported, the family of Eric Garner met with DA Daniel Donovan Jr. on Monday and said they would like the feds to step in.
Video of Garner’s arrest appears to show him being held in a choke hold by police, who moved into arrest Garner for allegedly selling illegal cigarettes.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday he has full faith in the current investigation.
“Right now, we have the Staten Island district attorney and the internal affairs bureau investigating, and I respect both of those entities and believe that they will do their investigations effectively,” the mayor said. “If the federal government decides to get involved in the case, we will absolutely cooperate.”
De Blasio spoke about the case at City Hall after returning from his vacation to Italy. He was joined by NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, who defended having police officers make arrests for quality-of-life crimes by hearkening back to the bad old days.
“The basic mission for police to exist is the prevention of crime, fear and disorder,” Bratton said. “I would argue in this city in particular, in this country there was no focus on prevention in the ’70s and ’80s. There was certainly no focus on disorder.”
In light of the Garner case, Bratton said the department will receive top-to-bottom retraining.
The mayor, while calling for unity, took a swipe at the previous administration.
“The vision here is not of a separation between police and community,” de Blasio said. “That’s what we had for 12 years, and that created more and more tension and more and more disconnect. We seek a unity between police and community.”
However, the mayor told reporters, including 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa and WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman, people need to understand that they must submit to arrest and that others should not interfere.
De Blasio was asked if he felt race was a factor in Garner’s death. He only said it was not appropriate to pass judgment before all the facts are in.
The NYPD reassigned Officer Daniel Pantaleo, the cop who used the apparent choke hold on Garner, and another unidentified officer while prosecutors and internal affairs detectives investigate.
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