Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

Eric Garner's Family Urges Justice Department To Prosecute Officer

Having reached a $5.9 million settlement with New York City over Eric Garner's death last summer, Garner's family says they want a federal indictment of a police officer who helped restrain him. A county grand jury previously opted not to indict officer Daniel Pantaleo, who had his arm wrapped around Garner's neck as he struggled to breathe.

"They deserve to be prosecuted. They treated my husband like an animal," Garner's widow, Esaw Garner, said of the police officers who were involved.

The U.S. Justice Department announced its own inquiry into Garner's death last December; that inquiry is still ongoing.


Garner's family held a news conference alongside Rev. Al Sharpton Tuesday, the day after their settlement with the city was announced. In addition to calling for Attorney General Loretta Lynch to prosecute Pantaleo, the family is planning a rally this Saturday to mark the anniversary of Garner's death.

Noting the settlement, Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, said, "Don't congratulate us. This is not a victory. The victory will come when we get justice."

Sharpton said, "Money is not justice. Money is a recognition of the loss of the family. But it does not deal with the criminal wrong," He later added, "They want justice, and they want to fight for justice for others."

Garner died in Staten Island, N.Y., last July 17, in an encounter with police that was recorded on video. The widely seen footage showed Garner, who was accused of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, being taken to the ground by a group of police officers, including Pantaleo.

In the video, Garner was heard saying repeatedly, "I can't breathe."


The New York Medical Examiner eventually ruled Garner's death a homicide, but a grand jury decided not to indict Pantaleo or any other who were involved.

The Garner family also reached a settlement with Richmond University Medical Center, which sent responders to the scene. The amount of that settlement has not been publicly revealed.

As news site Staten Island Live reported earlier this year, Pantaleo has been named in several lawsuits, ranging from pending action by the Garner family to other cases. Those claims range from his alleged role in a 2014 car crash to a city settlement over the treatment of two suspects back in 2012.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit