NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Nearly four years after Eric Garner died during an arrest on Staten Island, the NYPD gave the U.S. Justice Department an ultimatum; if federal investigators don’t take action on the case by the end of August police brass will step in.
Garner died four years ago Tuesday, and the department says it’s ready to start hearings against the officers involved and cannot wait any longer for the federal investigation to wrap up.
Cell phone video from July 17th, 2014 captured officers trying to arrest the 43-year-old Garner for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. Officer Daniel Pantaleo is seen putting his arm around Garner’s neck as he pulled him onto the ground. Garner was repeatedly heard saying “I can’t breath,” and later died.
In a letter to the Justice Department, NYPD attorney Lawrence Byrne says the department didn’t move ahead with disciplinary proceedings because it did not want to impact the federal investigation into the case. Now, the NYPD is giving the DOJ until August 31st to announce whether it will file civil rights charges. If no decision is announced, Byrne says the department will move forward.
Garner’s family spoke just a short time ago.
“We want it to be done swiftly,” mother Gwen Carr said. “We don’t want politics to play a part in this. We just want justice for my son.”
PBA President Patrick Lynch released a statement Monday saying he agrees the DOJ should move to close Officer Pantaleo’s case, and they’re confident he will be vindicated. A Staten Island grand jury did not indict the officer on charges in Garner’s death.
Pantaleo remains on modified duty.