September 25, 2020

In March 2014, 43-year-old Eric Garner was  arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes. At the time, one of the NYPD policing priorities was to crack down on low-level offenses like these because of “broken-window policing” — a strategy that former Mayor Rudy Giuliani started in which low-level offenses are given harsh penalties.

On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner, a Black man, was killed by a white NYPD officer on Staten Island, New York, USA. Two policemen spotted Eric successfully breaking up a fight between two other people. In spite of this, the police didn’t concern themselves much with the two people who were fighting. Instead, they focused on Eric, even though Eric had just stopped two people from assaulting each other, he was suddenly the culprit in the situation.

One of the policemen who tried to arrest Eric is Daniel Pantaleo. Pantaleo put Eric, who suffered with Asthma, into a chokehold. Eric died after the chokehold. His last words were, “I can’t breathe.” In a cellphone video, one of Eric’s friends showed that neither the EMTs nor the policemen at the scene were giving him CPR, even though he was clearly unconscious. This was after Eric’s head hit the concrete, according to a friend, and blood was coming out of his mouth. The four EMTs were suspended for two days without pay.

1 August 2014, Eric’s death ruled a homicide

A medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide. On Aug. 1, 2014, the NYC medical examiner linked Pantaleo’s chokehold to Garner’s death, as well as “prone positioning during physical restraint by police.”

By putting Eric into a chokehold, Pantaleo was violating the rules he was bound to as a police officer. He did not have the authority to use that force.A few days after Garner’s death, Pantaleo was stripped of his badge and gun and placed on desk duty.

Ramsey Orta, who filmed the state-sanctioned attack and murder of Eric Garner, was indicted. He wasn’t indicted for filming the incident. But Orta was indicted on weapons charges about a month after he filmed Garner’s death.

4 December 2014, a grand jury does not indict Pantaleo, protests begin.

On 4 December, 2014, a grand jury decided not to indict Daniel Pantaleo and protests take place in New York City.

A second night of protests in New York City brought out thousands on Thursday 5 December, 2014. in reaction to the grand jury’s decision.

They gathered in downtown Manhattan’s Foley Square and chanted “I can’t breathe” and “No justice, no peace” before marching across the Brooklyn Bridge, carrying replicas of coffins. Another group started in Harlem. The marchers also disrupted traffic near the Holland Tunnel, the Manhattan Bridge and on the Westside Highway.

In Boston, several thousand rallied peacefully although some blocked city streets while marching to Boston Common, where the city’s annual tree lighting ceremony was underway. Demonstrators toted signs saying “Justice for All” and “Black Lives Matter” as they chanted. They later gathered outside the Statehouse. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said he too was frustrated and discouraged by the grand jury’s decision.

Protests were held in other cities:

Atlanta, where demonstrators gathered downtown, roughly 100 turning out near the Five Points MARTA train station. Chicago, where hundreds blocked Lake Shore Drive along Lake Michigan. Protesters were thwarted in their efforts to march to Soldier Field, where a Bears-Cowboys football game was scheduled. They reversed course and at the city’s Dan Ryan Expressway, about two dozen demonstrators darted onto the road and briefly blocked five lanes. Detroit, where protesters lay down on the ground for a “die-in” at the city’s Campus Martius at midday as temperatures hovered around freezing. Denver, where students from at least four high schools joined in protest. Students from Abraham Lincoln High School left class and walked about nine kilometres to the Capitol, snarling traffic. Buses were sent to pick up the students after the protest. Minneapolis, where demonstrators decrying police treatment of minorities stopped traffic for several hours on Interstate 35W near downtown before rallying at City Hall. Some protesters were fast-food workers demanding higher wages and union rights.

The mother and widow of Eric Garner, said on Saturday they had been moved by the thousands of peaceful demonstrators who have taken to the streets after a grand jury declined to indict the white officer involved. “It is just so awesome to see how the crowds are out there,” said Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, who added that she ended up stuck in her car after protests shut down traffic. “I was just so proud of that crowd,” Carr said. “It just warmed my heart.” Garner’s widow, Esaw Garner, said she saw demonstrators from her apartment window and told her son: “Look at all the love that your father’s getting.”

Demonstrators around the country have staged die-ins and other protests since the Garner grand jury’s decision on Wednesday, which closely followed a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict a white officer in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old. Eric Garner’s family members joined the Reverend Al Sharpton later on Saturday as Sharpton laid a wreath at the site on Staten Island where Eric died on 17 July, in a confrontation that started when police tried to arrest him for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. An amateur video seen by millions showed Eric gasping “I can’t breathe” during the fatal encounter. All we’re concerned about is justice from the police,” said Eric’s stepfather, Benjamin Carr, who wore a T-shirt with the words “Enough is enough”.

Protests continued in New York City for a fourth day with several dozen people lying down on the floor of Grand Central Terminal. There were no reports of arrests. In Oakland, California, hundreds of protesters briefly blocked Interstate 880, a major freeway, on Friday night. There were no immediate reports of any arrests or injuries. Protests have also been held in Philadelphia, Chicago, Miami and a number of other cities.

9 December 2014, LeBron James wears t-shirt bearing Eric Garner’s last words

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James wears an I Can’t Breathe T-shirt during warm-ups prior to the game against the Brooklyn Nets in New York on 9 December, 2014. Photograph: Reuters/USA Today Sports

10 December 2014, London

Hundreds of protesters have staged a “die-in” at the Westfield shopping centre in west London over the decision in New York not to indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner. The event was organised by the campaign group London Black Revs on Wednesday evening as part of a global wave of protest against a US grand jury’s ruling not to bring charges against Daniel Pantaleo, a New York police officer, for Garner’s death by chokehold.

12 December 2014, Erica Garner, Eric’s daughter, begins protesting

Just outside a Staten Island storefront on Thursday night, Erica Garner laid down on the sidewalk where her father collapsed after being put in a chokehold by a New York police officer. Erica led a group of protesters on a march to a memorial for her father, Eric Garner, who died shortly after the incident. The group staged a “die-in” next to the makeshift memorial, with people lying in the streets on a nearly freezing cold night in the New York City borough. 

Erica said she will continue to lead protests in Staten Island twice a week in memory of her father, who died at age 43 after NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in the chokehold. Garner’s last words – “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe” – have become a rallying cry for protesters across the US since a grand jury decided not to indict Pantaleo last month. 

erica garner
Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner, lays down in the spot where her father died. Photograph: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

30 March 2015, reports that Pantaleo is being sued in an unrelated case

The New York police officer accused in the death of Eric Garner – a Staten Island man who died after being placed in a banned chokehold – is being sued for allegedly crashing his police vehicle into another man’s car causing “severe” injuries to the driver, the New York Daily News has reported.  Daniel Pantaleo, 29, has been named as the defendant in a civil suit filed in Queens supreme court against the NYPD, alleging the officer crashed his police car into a Staten Island man’s car on 20 June, roughly one month before the fatal encounter with Garner, the paper reported. 

The driver of the other vehicle, Leonardo Aguirre, claims in the suit that the police officer was trailing his 2010 Chevrolet closely when the collision occurred, about 15 minutes away from the officer’s 120th precinct station house. Aguirre said he suffered “severe and permanent” injuries to his neck, back, left shoulder and knees, according to the suit. Pantaleo remains on modified duty from the NYPD after he was caught on video wrestling Garner to the ground and placing him in a chokehold while the man gasped: “I can’t breathe.”

14 July 2015, New York City agrees to pay compensation to Eric Garner’s family

New York City has agreed to pay $5.9m to the family of Eric Garner, the 43-year-old man who died on Staten Island last July after being placed in an illegal chokehold by a police officer. The New York City comptroller, Scott Stringer, announced the settlement in a statement.

“Following a judicious review of the claim and facts of this case, my office was able to reach a settlement with the estate of Eric Garner that is in the best interests of all parties,” Stringer said. 

The city’s medical examiner ruled the death a homicide but Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who placed Eric Garner in a chokehold during an arrest for selling loose cigarettes, was not indicted. The grand jury decision not to hand down an indictment led to widespread protests and tension in the city in December.

30 December 2017, Erica Garner dies

The Black Lives Matter activist Erica Garner has died, after a week in hospital following a heart attack. She was 27. Garner was the daughter of Eric Garner, a man who died in a police chokehold in New York in 2014. Among tributes, Senator Bernie Sanders said that although Garner “didn’t ask to be an activist, she responded to the personal tragedy of seeing her father die … by becoming a leading proponent for criminal justice reform and for an end to police brutality”.

Announcing Garner’s death in New York on Saturday morning, the Rev Al Sharpton said she was “a warrior to the end”. He said: “Her heart was broken when she didn’t get justice … the [heart] attack just dealt with the pieces that were left.”

Four months ago, Garner gave birth to a son who was named for her father. She also had an eight-year-old daughter. In a recent interview with the webshow Like it or Not, she talked about the difficulties of life as a parent and an activist. “I’m struggling right now from the stress of everything,” she said, “because the system, it beats you down.”

Her mother, Esaw Snipes, told the New York Times earlier this week her daughter learned during her recent pregnancy that she had heart problems. Snipes said Garner had a heart attack after an asthma episode and was placed in a medically induced coma. On Saturday, Snipes told the Times: “The only thing I can say is that she was a warrior. She fought the good fight. This is just the first fight in 27 years she lost.”

A message on Garner’s official Twitter account, which was run by family and friends after she became ill, said:

“She was human: mother, daughter, sister, aunt. Her heart was bigger than the world. It really really was. She cared when most people wouldn’t have. She was good. She only pursued right, no matter what. No one gave her justice.”

16 July 2018, New York Police Department announce they will pursue charges against Daniel Panteleo

The New York police department said on Monday it was moving ahead with disciplinary proceedings against a police officer accused in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, given a lack of action by federal authorities.

Mr. Garner was killed in a confrontation with NYPD officers on Staten Island in 2014. He was unarmed and was confronted over the sale of loose cigarettes. His dying words, “I can’t breathe”, became a slogan for the Black Lives Matter movement. A letter from an NYPD lawyer informed the US Department of Justice that it would no longer wait for federal authorities to decide whether to charge Officer Daniel Pantaleo.

16 May 2019, it is revealed that a Senior NYPD officer described Eric Garner’s death as ‘not a big deal’

A senior New York city police officer involved in the arrest of Eric Garner, the African American man who died after being put in a chokehold by a police officer in 2014, told a subordinate that the incident was “not a big deal” immediately after being informed Garner had gone into cardiac arrest and was probably dead, it emerged on Thursday.

The revelation was contained in a series of text messages between Lt Christopher Bannon of the NYPD, who had dispatched officers to Garner’s location, and a sergeant, Dhanan Saminath, who had been present at the scene. They were disclosed as part of a disciplinary trial for officer Daniel Pantaleo, who is accused of placing Garner in a banned chokehold during the arrest, which led to his death almost five years ago.

Lt Bannon appeared before the court in New York and was asked by prosecutors to read the exchange of July 2014 text messages between the two officers, as many members of the public in the room gasped with anger. The texts showed that Saminath told his superior: “Danny [Pantaleo] and Justin [D’Amico, another officer involved] went to collar Eric Garner and he resisted. When they took him down Eric went into cardiac arrest. He’s unconscious. Might [be] DOA.”

After another short exchange, Bannon replied: “Not a big deal. We were effecting a lawful arrest.”

Mr. Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, told the Guardian immediately after the hearing that the text messages were “a pure smack in the face”.

Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, told the Guardian after the hearing that the text messages were ‘a pure smack in the face’.

Gwen Carr. Photograph: M Stan Reaves/REX/Shutterstock

“For the officer to disregard a human life like that … in other words it was business as usual. Leave him there, do what you want to do, go on about your business. That’s what it felt like to me,” Ms. Carr said, adding she had not known of the messages’ existence until they were read in court on Thursday.

19 August 2019, Pantaleo is fired by the NYPD

A New York City police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed African American man killed by police on Staten Island in 2014, has been fired by the department.The decision was announced by New York police department (NYPD) commissioner James O’Neill on Monday after an administrative police judge advised that officer Daniel Pantaleo should lose his job for misconduct during the arrest.

“In this case, the unintended consequence of Mr Garner’s death must have a consequence of its own,” O’Neill said, confirming his agreement with the judge’s recommendation. He added: “It is clear that Daniel Pantaleo can no longer effectively serve as a New York City police officer.”

25 September 2020, Battery Park, New York City

Sources:,, New York Times.

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