NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio had praise for the Justice Department, but wouldn’t comment on its shakeup of the investigation into the police chokehold death of Eric Garner.
With an impasse in the case, the New York Times reported Tuesday, that the Justice Department has replaced the New York team of agents and lawyers with a new team from out-of-town.
The Justice Department has been reviewing the case to determine if Garner’s civil rights were violated. The shake-up could put the government back on its way to filing federal charges against Officer Daniel Pantaleo, CBS2 reported.
As WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported, when asked about the move, de Blasio said he wouldn’t speculate but praised the department’s record.
“I really don’t speculate, I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t speculate on the prosecution dynamics but I’ll say this much. I have tremendous respect for Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Justice Department has always been the gold standard in terms of protecting civil rights,” he said.
Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, died on July 2014 on Staten Island as police tried to arrest him for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. Pantaleo used a takedown move that many have described as a chokehold.
Garner told officers “I can’t breathe” as he was being arrested. He was pronounced dead later at a hospital.
The city medical examiner found the apparent police chokehold contributed to Garner’s death, but a grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo.
The city paid the Garner family nearly $6 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit.