By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The fatal decision was made before the chokehold

It seems to me that we’re looking at the wrong thing in thinking about the death of Eric Garner. It wasn’t the chokehold — it was the police officers’ decision to use overwhelming force to enforce a ridiculous law that no one cares about. Once that decision was made, there was no predicting what the outcome would be.

I’m sure Officer Daniel Pantaleo didn’t mean to kill Eric Garner. But he and his fellow officers certainly meant to take him down. And for what?

And yes, it is inconceivable that Pantaleo and perhaps other officers weren’t charged with something by the grand jury for their horrendous judgment. Criminal negligence perhaps?

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  1. Patricia Bennett

    I agree with your assessment 100%. I saw this video months ago and it is very hard to watch. The obvious over use of force on this man can’t be denied. If you ever watch the show Cops as a family member of mine does, it always amazes me when the cops tackle and throw to the ground a person, in the most harshest and brutal way. I’m always disturbed seeing this because to me, most of the time it’s unneccessary.

    Look at the video in the Garner case, where was he going? How fast could this large man run? They already had him on the ground, why the need for the continued neck hold? There was no need for the force used, period. All this for black market cigarettes?

    I disagree with this Grand Jury decision and it bothers me. On the other hand, to me this case and the Ferguson case are on opposite ends and are in no way similar.

  2. Andy Koppel

    Here’s my cynical explanation. The Staten Island D.A. is an elected official. Staten Island is very conservative. The D.A. did not wish to be viewed as pursuing the police. The D.A. assumed that the Justice Department would get involved if the Grand Jury did not indict. If true, it’s pretty sordid, but I think quite plausible. Now the D.A. and his constituents can berate the Justice Department if and when it tries to indict the police through other legal means.

  3. Lisa Connell

    What about the make up of the grand jury, both in this case and in Ferguson, Mo.? Does their decision, based on whatever evidence was presented in the N.Y. case, for example, also point to a racial divide between people living in the U.S. today? Are we afraid of one another because one group’s skin color is not that of another group?

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