Eric Garner

Eric Holder Is Right: The Cop Who Killed Eric Garner Should Face a Federal Civil Rights Investigation


Yesterday afternoon a Staten Island grand jury failed to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the killing of Eric Garner, the black Staten Island man who died as a direct result of the chokehold employed by Officer Pantaleo. "Now that the local investigation has concluded," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder declared in a statement last night, "I am here to announce that the Justice Department will proceed with a federal civil rights investigation into Mr. Garner's death."

Attorney General Holder is entirely correct to launch this investigation. The video evidence in the case plainly shows a white police officer using excessive and ultimately lethal force against an unarmed, nonthreatening black suspect. The grand jury's failure to indict is an embarrassment to the rule of law and a striking miscarriage of justice. In effect, a black man who posed zero risk to either the police or to the public was nonetheless handed a death sentence by the NYPD for the alleged petty crime of selling untaxed loose cigarettes. There's no excuse for Officer Pantaleo's shameful treatment of Eric Garner.

Furthermore, Holder's decision to launch a federal inquiry is fully consistent with the original purposes of federal civil rights legislation, which dates back to the Civil Rights Act of 1866. That law was passed by the Republican-led 39th Congress in the wake of the Civil War in response to the former Confederate states' attempts to harass and oppress the recently freed slaves by stripping them of their newfound liberty and property, denying them the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense, and failing–or refusing–to provide them equal treatment under the law.

In other words, the whole point of federal civil rights law is to provide a legal check against state-sanctioned injustice, such as the egregious police misconduct that killed Eric Garner. Attorney General Holder should be commended for putting federal law to its intended purpose in this case.

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70 responses to “Eric Holder Is Right: The Cop Who Killed Eric Garner Should Face a Federal Civil Rights Investigation

  1. Had Garner been white, then there would be no civil rights case. Principals, not principles.

    1. You’re unfortunately correct but that doesn’t negate the need for it to happen here.

      1. Also, if cops were out in suburbs doing stop and frisk and stopping people walking to ask them what they up to and where they are going, copa and their bosses would be losing their jobs.

      2. actually… it does. If a law can’t be equally applied, then it shouldn’t be applied at all. Unfortunately, the useful idiots in Ferguson lost all of their credibility when seeking justice and the wind is out of their sails. THIS is the case, in which, people should be in the streets protesting. Now… all we have is a mob without a soal or direction and a Federal government pushing for a racist federal prosecution. None of us is as dumb as all of us.

        1. In complete agreement on every point. Well stated.

        2. Sorry, but you are wrong. The state action was itself racist, therefore the federal government action is not racist, since it is targeting the officer, not the black victim. The 14th amendment is meaningless if the Federal government cannot bring actions against state actors. Also, the law can be equally applied. If there was evidence that a white citizen was having their rights violated, they could also be prosecuted under the law. Check your logic before you comment.

          1. Well replied Valkanis. There is plenty in civil rights legislation deserving of critique. Providing a means of indictment for state actors who commit racially charfed murder deserves no such critique.

    2. But there might have been an indictment. The civil rights part of this is about how black lives don’t matter much.

      1. its not that black lives dont mater you fucking racebaiting twat.
        its that an American citizen who didn’t even resist (no there was no resistance, that guy is huge he could have resisted like a mother fucker if he had wanted) was executed without so much as a trial for a petty infraction of an arbitrary law that those in your ideology forced upon the rest of us.
        in short you have no right to speak here, your ideals, your party, your progress is what killed eric garner.
        i hope your proud of the massive government your kind has built scumbag.

        1. Your standard of what is resisting arrest does not meet law criteria. The moment Garner said he was not going to be arrested he was resisting arrest. Resisting arrest doesn’t have to physical. A verbal declaration suffices.

          1. Your knowledge of the law is faulty. Response is required to be proportional to the action being responded to. There was no evidence that he did or was going to use lethal force, therefore the officer has a legal duty to use the minimum force necessary to subdue him, which he obviously did not do.

      2. Wonderful circular reasoning: you think police are racist, then construct a hypothetical based on that, and then use that as evidence for your assumption of racism.

        And your kind of bullshit is why people keep getting killed, since you can’t fix the problem if you misdiagnose its source.

        Garner got killed because because petty rule violations are treated like violent crimes and because there are too many rules. The racial bias in police comes from the simple fact that blacks are disproportionately affected by these laws and by poverty.

    3. Next time the cops kill a white guy for selling loosies let me know…

      1. Well, the cops killed white guy Kelly Thomas for… actually, I have no idea at all what he did, other than be out on the street and homeless.

        1. poor in public, the penalty is death

        2. according to what statistics we do have available, whites still represent the majority of people shot by police at 52%. The 48% includes not just blacks but hispanics and pacific islanders. Nationally, I suspect the claim that whites are not proportionally killed by police to be false. Mamy of the whites killed tend to be either poor or mentally ill, so they do not meet expectations in the context of a discussion of “amerixan racism” as such.

    4. You’re almost certainly right, sarcasmic. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that a civil rights investigation isn’t warranted. There is a political dimension to why the investigation is being launched in this case, but that doesn’t negate the solid legal justification for doing so. Having said that, the political motivation makes me uncomfortable. But I think the appropriate response is to advocate for these types of investigations to be launched regardless of what color skin the people involved have.

    5. White people don’t get harassed by cops.

      1. Wrong.

  2. If there is an occupation full of more pricks than the cops it’s prosecutors. They’re not going to indict cops.

    1. I don’t agree with the progressives very often, but I think I agree with them that there probably needs to be some kind of Special Prosecutor created to investigate and prosecute these kinds of cases, because the local prosecutors are just too buddy-buddy with the police in their jurisdiction.

      The idea that a prosecutor couldn’t even get an indictment on Pantaleo with the existence of that video just defies all rationality.

  3. The crash of the Middle Class ought to be the biggest headline of the year. We are getting taxed, regulated, inflated, wage stagnated, and Obamacared out of existence.

    Everything Obama has done seems to be aimed at destroying the Middle Class and it’s working.

    1. Woops wrong thread.

      1. Is it though?

    2. It is the biggest headline, but Obama blames Republicans for it…

  4. have the welfare queens at weighed in? on one hand they seem like they would favor the street death penalty for selling a cig.

    1. and on the other hand they seem like they would favor the street death penalty for selling a cig.

  5. how about an investigation into the law that led police to act? is it a racist law? i don’t think so, but garner was right – it is ridiculous. and what are the police supposed to do if someone resists arrest? ask again nicely? in this case, a stupid law was met with unwise responses. everyone played a part in escalating this situation to a tragic end.

    1. as well as the law that led to this tragic case, police tactics need to be reconsidered. clearly, something is wrong.

    2. I’m still trying to figure out why what he did requires arrest. Write him a citation with a court date and order him to leave. His “offense” is on par with other nonviolent crimes like jaywalking or speeding (leaving aside the point that it shouldn’t be a crime in the first place).

      1. Legally, the choice between citation and arrest is at the discretion of police. They are supposed to write a citation if they trust you to appear in court voluntarily, otherwise they are supposed to arrest you. If you refuse to accept or sign the citation, they pretty much have to arrest you. If they decide to arrest you and you resist, things get progressively worse from there.

        I’m not saying it’s a good system, but merely pointing out its negative consequences isn’t enough: you need to propose a viable alternative.

    3. there’s a saying in legal circles: “you can beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride.” important to remember when police attempt to make an arrest.

    4. I didn’t see anything in the video to suggest that Gardner escalated the situation to the point that he needed to be put in a choke hold and then have his face pushed into the concrete with a knee in his back as he desperately tried to tell the police that he could not breathe. All he did was wave his hands in the air when the police made a move to cuff him. The appropriate response when someone is agitated and you are trying to arrest them for a nonviolent crime is to take the time to talk them down so that they go with you peacefully. If that takes an hour or two, so be it.

      1. //what are the police supposed to do if someone resists arrest?

        Except that Garner didn’t even resist arrest (unless that happened before the video). The cops just randomly went up to him and started choking him and handcuffing him, without ever telling him that he’s under arrest.

        1. you personally are on another link on this site advocating for this treatment of people who engage in voluntary behaviors that may potentially be harmful to themselves.
          you dont get it, once you prohibit non-violent behavior the only way you can enforce it is through violence
          effectively creating the atmosphere for citizens to be executed for selling loosies ( or herion, since i believe thats what your pet ban-law was)

    5. exactly! I hate how the true root of the problem is never discussed:

      Stupid laws.

    6. In Canada we had a series of lethal car crashes caused by police chasing teens in cars. Sometimes the teens died, but usually they would kill a pedestrian, or kill some others in cars.

      The police, every time, said procedures were followed and no policeman was at fault.

  6. Eric Holder is Right

    When monkeys fly out of my ass. The feds have jurisdiction when locals won’t afford due process to litigants. When that happens, its the DA and judge who goes on trial, not the alleged perp or the victim.

  7. Nostradamus sez that sometime next year, there will be an out-of-court settlement made to Mr. Garner’s family and the civil rights investigation will die on the vine. Koinkidink?

  8. The video shows Garner clearly resisting arrest. Anyone who’s been arrested over 30 times — as Garner had been — knows the routine, and knows he has to let the cops put the bracelets on him while he calmly stands still as they do what arresting officers are required to do.

    Instead, he moved around and made it evident he wasn’t going to willingly submit. That’s why the episode lasted as long as it did.

    Anyway, he died of an asthma attack. Not the choke-hold. The choke-hold may have triggered the asthma attack, but the hold itself did not cause his death.

    1. I bet they can find experts to attest that the choke hold was the proximate cause as well as the cause-in-fact.

      You don’t get away with murder just because the guy you punched was frail and you thought he could take it.

      1. (Actually you would get a lower included punishment, like 2nd degree or manslaughter, so I wasn’t technically correct there.)

      2. Not the same thing. If you punch someone you are doing something wrong. If you are trying to arrest someone you aren’t doing something wrong. And, if while resisting the person triggers his own health problem I don’t see how the policeman killed him.

        Although, I think a bunch of police going around arresting someone for selling singles is so stupid it is, or should be, criminal in and of itself.

        1. If you are trying to arrest someone you aren’t doing something wrong

          Aka, “When the President does it, it’s not illegal.”

          I’m pretty sure even the Supreme Court has held that you need probable cause for arrest. There is such a thing as wrongful arrest, although whether this particular case qualifies, from a strictly legal perspective, I do not know.

    2. Come on man. You can’t seriously try and defend that. Can you?

      1. Mike, when I see a post from a name I don’t recognize and that posts advocates a very non-libertarian position, I always assume it’s a drive-by. These articles get a lot of attention not only from us but from the cry-bully crowd.

        Also, it’s Thursday.

        1. I don’t think quondom is promoting a non-libertarian position. It’s just a letter-of-the-law position…whether you like the law or not. Beyond that, I don’t see a pure “libertarian” position here. I think the whole situation is non-libertarian because it’s the result of a compounding domino effect of stupidity by the state and the citizen resulting in the worst possible outcome.

    3. His cause of death was ruled a homicide by the coroner. Where, exactly, are you getting this outrageous claim that the choke hold was not the cause of death?


    The video evidence in the case plainly shows a white police officer using excessive and ultimately lethal force against an unarmed, nonthreatening black suspect.

    I’m so tired of the “racial angle”. Who gives a fuck if the dead guy was Vietnamese or Irish? A cop murdered a citizen for Failure to OBEY.

    Fry the bastard.

    1. THANK YOU!!!!! I am sick to death of people making this about race! I’m a white female and I’ve been treated like shit by cops! It was a man basically guilty of civil disobedience. He was violating a stupid law, he wasn’t getting violent, the cops acted like dipshits. If he was white and the same thing happened, the cops would still be dipshits.

      On a related note, I hate the term “hate crime”. All violent crimes are hate crimes! You don’t kill or rape someone because you love them.

    2. Yeah, but you need the racial angle in order to be able to get around that pesky Double Jeopady Clause.

      1. I’m pretty sure a grand jury’s failure to indict doesn’t qualify as jeopardy, but I could be wrong. Pretty sure though.

        1. You’re probably right. IIRC, jeopardy doesn’t attach until the trial jury is empaneled. If the DA wanted to, he could keep sending the case back to the grand jury until they got it “right” (see Bernard Goetz case). What I should have said was that the racial angle is needed to get the feds involved in a local homicide case.

  10. The video evidence in the case plainly shows a white police officer using excessive and ultimately lethal force against an unarmed, nonthreatening black suspect.

    I just love those SJW black/white adjectives Damon. Fuck, I’m gonna watch “To Sir, with love” for 10th time tonight, just to celebrate.

  11. Sorry. Damon Root’s argument is incredibly weak. This is not a racial issue. It’s just an excessive force issue. It’s a bad law issue. It’s a petty incident turned tragic issue.

    Other than mentioning the fact that the officer was white and the victim was black, Root offers nothing to support his argument. And what he offers seems more coincidental than anything else. Unless Root has something real and convincing to provide as to why it’s not a coincidence, he shouldn’t be sure of himself.

  12. Because I’m sure that if it had been a white guy they were trying to arrest for selling loosies, and he refused to submit, the NYPD would just say, “Oh, well, it’s not worth making a big deal about it. Just don’t do it again.”

  13. I think this is a much bigger outrage than the Ferguson thing, but the report I read had the guy dying of a heart attack. He wasn’t choked out and died. He had a heart attack and died.

    Was this a wrong report? Anyone know?

    Also, all the being killed while black comments aren’t fair to me. Police irrationally kill poor whites too. A young white woman was killed recently, suspected of being a car thief….suspected. And, she was unarmed. Apparently, Al Sharpton did not attend her funeral.

    Police tend to kill poor people over wealthy people. More blacks are poor. Therefore, more blacks are killed than whites.

    1. Yes the report you read was incorrect. The coroner ruled his death a homicide.

  14. Mallum prohibtas in action! see the fruits of demonizing voluntary non-violent behavior! stand in wonder and bewilderment at the vast righteousness of the state as you comply with all petty demands or be executed without trial.
    lets call it progress

  15. There’s no indication this had anything to do with race. The cops would have handled it exactly the same if Garner had been white. It was a botched arrest. Period.

    1. How do you know that? Are you aware of the mountain of indisputable statistical evidence that police and prosecutors, including the ones in the city where this incident occurred, target blacks for questioning, arrest, and indictment more than non-blacks in amounts that are far above what could be ascribed to chance? That, combined with the obvious egregiousness of the situation, creates probable cause to at least investigate the action. Your blanket declaration is unwarranted.

  16. Furthermore, Holder’s decision to launch a federal inquiry is fully consistent with the original purposes of federal civil rights legislation, which dates back to the Civil Rights Act of 1866.

    Didn’t that involve using the US Army to enforce civil rights laws? So much for opposing militarized police.

    1. Are you really going to pretend the circumstances are comparable? The U.S. army was in the southern states because they had just fought a war against them, and there were thousands of newly freed slaves that needed protection against their racist governments from widespread, overt racial discrimination. The situation is very different now, and no one is calling for military intervention. Your response is quite bizarre.

  17. My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do,

  18. This is supposed to be Reason, yet it amazes me how many commentators go off half cocked with much more than news reports and a video to draw conclusions.

    Love watching you all try to pin the tail on the donkey.

  19. So now the litmus test of whether a case merits a “civil rights” investigation is going to be based solely on the race of the victim, not the merits of the case? Wasn’t the sergeant officer supervising the arrest a black female?

  20. Funny isn’t it how Eric Holder is wide awake,on the ball and so forth in this matter yet was so far “out of it”, and remains so regarding Operation Fast and Furious

  21. Do the Feds have to prove that race played a factor in the chokehold?

  22. Isn’t that doublethink? I mean the guy was afoul of the Prog agenda and behavioral diktat which meant he had to be crushed and De Blasio is acting like he’s mad when he is secretly thrilled to see anyone who swims against his prog agenda vanished

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