Congressman Serrano on Grand Jury Decision Not to Indict Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo in Eric Garner’s Case

Today, Congressman José E. Serrano (D-NY) released the following statement on the grand jury decision not to indict Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the death of Eric Garner as a result of using an illegal chokehold during his arrest.

“The grand jury’s decision today not to indict police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the case of Eric Garner is a disconcerting. Despite the indisputable visual evidence available in this case, and a ruling by the Chief Medical Examiner that Eric Garner’s death was a homicide, our criminal justice system did not vote to indict on a single criminal charge. Last week, the grand jury’s decision in the Ferguson left us with a sense of injustice. Today’s decision just adds to the feeling of that our criminal justice system is failing minority victims and letting the perpetrators get away. My sympathies go out to Eric Garner’s family, loved ones, and entire community in this difficult moment.

“This decision provides additional proof that we need the U.S. Department of Justice to open a formal civil rights investigation to help bring justice in this case and change the way police departments relate to minority communities. It is now time for the U.S. Department of Justice to act. There also needs to be greater transparency in this type of legal proceeding.. In this case specifically, we need more details as to how the grand jury reached its final decision.

“We also need to have a serious conversation about the state of race relations in America. It is time to at ourselves as a country and recognize that we have a major problem as to how we relate to each other.

“Today’s decision will rightfully reignite the sense of outrage that many felt after the Ferguson grand jury decision, especially in New York.  While I understand their frustration, I encourage people to express it through peaceful means. We don’t need to resort to violence to make our voices heard.

“We can’t give up. We must continue pursuing justice for Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and all the other innocent minority men and women who are suffering the effects of police abuse and civil rights abuses.”

Congressman Serrano joined Representative Jeffries and several other Members of Congress from New York City earlier this year in a letter to urge the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the death of Eric Garner and the New York Police Department’s enforcement of the state’s government ‘broken windows’ policy.

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