Eric Garner

Will Grand Jury Investigating Eric Garner's Choking Death Lead to New Outrage?


In New York City, another grand jury investigating possible police misconduct that led to a man's death is getting close to rendering a decision. In July, Eric Garner died after being placed in a chokehold by a police officer when he refused to surrender. His alleged crime: Selling untaxed cigarettes.

New York City is ramping up for potential protests depending on whether the grand jury indicts Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the deadly encounter. The police are warning that they're prepared to deal with anybody who causes too much trouble. From the New York CBS affiliate:

Sources earlier told CBS2 the NYPD will use the same model as it did to handle Occupy Wall Street protests.

Those plans include assigning NYPD task force units to 12-hour shifts, sending in a large contingent of officers on scooters, as well as on foot, and keeping barricade units on standby along with mounted units and aviation.

Sources stressed, however, that the NYPD response to any future Garner case protest will not be "heavy-handed" unless there is immediate damage to people or property. The watch words are "breathing room."

But despite the number of anti-police protests in New York City over the past week, officials emphasized Tuesday that the city is a place that is actively committed to police reform and improving community relations.

Officials said there has been a 79 percent drop in the number of stop, question and frisk actions, and a 16 percent increase in gun seizures from the stops that have been made.

"We want to go after the bad guys. We don't want to go after innocent, law-abiding New Yorkers who just happen to be walking down the street," de Blasio said.

De Blasio may say that now, but back after the Garner incident he was defending police enforcement of petty laws in New York City. Ed Krayewski took note here. "Law-abiding" is not a particularly useful phrase when your city outlaws so many things. Also related: earlier today, A. Barton Hinkle noted how New York City's extremely high taxes on cigarettes leads to smuggling. The city has nobody to blame for its cigarette black market but itself.

Personally, I'm not willing to predict how the grand jury might decide. Garner's arrest was caught on video, which eliminates a lot of ambiguity about what actually happened, unlike Michael Brown's shooting death. Coroner's reports pin Garner's death on the chokehold and the police's restraint of him at the scene. On the other hand, he was refusing to cooperate with the police, and there's a large contingent of people who will therefore lay the blame on him for whatever happened next, even if it was just over contraband cigarettes.

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