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New York case reinforces black distrust of police

The video showing several New York police officers wrestling Eric Garner to the ground, one of them with an arm around his neck spoke for itself.

Yet in the face of that shocking visual, on Wednesday a Staten Island grand jury voted not to bring criminal charges against the New York City police officer behind the chokehold.


Despite the powerful images, when it comes to justice, the life of this black man didn’t seem to matter.

Worse yet, the grand jury decision ignores the department’s 20-year-old ban on the controversial takedown tactic.

Unlike the Michael Brown police-involved shooting in Ferguson, Mo., where few people believed a grand jury would indict Darren Wilson for shooting the unarmed teen, there was hope that having a video of Garner’s violent arrest would result in charges against the police officers.

Garner’s final moments were caught on videotape.

Thousands of people watched police officers pile on Garner like defensive linemen.

Thousands of people heard him tell officers he could not breathe.

The 43-year-old father of six died of a heart attack after the arrest. The medical examiner in Staten Island concluded the police action was the primary cause of Garner’s death, and also ruled that Garner’s obesity, heart problems and asthma contributed to his death.

That ruling gave Garner supporters hope that a grand jury would indict. But jurors apparently ignored the impact the police officer’s blatant disregard of the chokehold ban had on the confrontation.

As it was, an indictment was considered only against Daniel Pantaleo, 29, the officer seen on the video with his arm around Garner’s neck as other officers struggled to put handcuff on him.

As with the Brown police-involved shooting, some of you will argue that Garner’s resistance led to his death and was not the result of over-reaction on the part of the police officers.

Obviously, Garner should not have resisted arrest after police officers approached him for allegedly selling loose cigarettes.

But when did the penalty for petty crime become death?