The Latest: Officer in chokehold death case is ‘gratified’

FILE – In this May 13, 2019, file photo, New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo leaves his house in Staten Island, N.Y. Time is running out for federal prosecutors to take action in the 2014 death of Eric Garner, the unarmed black man heard on video crying “I can’t breathe” after Pantaleo put him in an apparent chokehold. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on the decision not to bring civil rights charges in the death of Eric Garner (all times local):

2:15 p.m.

A lawyer says New York Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo (pan-tuh-LAY’-oh) is “gratified” that the Justice Department carefully reviewed his case rather than what he calls the “lies and inaccuracies” surrounding it.

The government announced Tuesday that it had decided not to bring civil rights charges against Pantaleo in connection with Eric Garner’s 2014 death.

Attorney Stuart London says Pantaleo used techniques approved by the New York Police Department while arresting Garner, who died after uttering “I can’t breathe.” London added that a loss of life is “always a tragedy.”

Meanwhile, a chant of “No justice, no peace!” erupted as Garner’s family and their supporters gathered outside City Hall.

Cousin Michael Garner stressed that the family has the “utmost respect” for law enforcement when it is “applied fairly.” However, he said officers who were “there and did nothing” should be fired.

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11:55 a.m.

The head of New York City’s largest police union says that the death of Eric Garner was an “undeniable tragedy” but that Officer Daniel Pantaleo (pan-tuh-LAY’-oh) “did not cause it.”

Patrick Lynch of the Police Benevolent Association issued a statement Tuesday after the federal government announced it won’t bring civil rights charges in Garner’s 2014 death.

Lynch says Pantaleo was just doing his job “in the manner he was taught.” He says turning a “good and honorable officer” into a scapegoat will not “heal the wounds” the case has caused for the “entire city.”

The union head adds that if the NYPD’s disciplinary case is decided fairly and “free of improper political influence,” Pantaleo will be fully exonerated.

A medical examiner found that a chokehold caused Pantaleo’s death.

Chokeholds are banned under police policy. Pantaleo maintained he used a legal takedown maneuver called the “seatbelt.”

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11:40 a.m.

A spokeswoman for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says the police commissioner is expected to decide by Aug. 31 whether the officer involved in Eric Garner’s death will be fired.

Prosecutors announced Tuesday that the federal government won’t bring civil rights charges in Garner’s 2014 death.

The New York Police Department says the decision won’t affect its internal disciplinary process.

Commissioner James O’Neill will make the final decision on any departmental action. Potential punishment ranges from loss of vacation days to termination.

The department says O’Neill is still awaiting a report from the administrative judge overseeing Pantaleo’s departmental hearing.

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11:15 a.m.

The U.S. attorney for eastern New York says an exhaustive investigation has found there is “insufficient evidence” to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the officer who arrested Eric Garner violated his civil rights.

U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue announced Tuesday that the government’s investigation into Garner’s 2014 death “has been closed.”

Prosecutors told Garner’s family about the decision earlier Tuesday.

The Rev. Al Sharpton calls it “a moral disgrace” and “judicial malpractice.”

Officers were attempting to arrest Garner in 2014 on charges he sold loose, untaxed cigarettes outside a convenience store. Garner refused to be handcuffed, and officers took him down.

A medical examiner found a chokehold contributed to his death.

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11:05 a.m.

Mayor Bill de Blasio says it was a “mistake” for New York City to wait years for federal prosecutors to investigate the death of Eric Garner before beginning disciplinary proceedings against the officer accused of putting him in a fatal chokehold.

However, de Blasio did not say whether the city intends to fire Officer Daniel Pantaleo.

Prosecutors told Garner’s family on Tuesday that the government won’t bring civil rights charges in his death.

The Rev. Al Sharpton calls the decision “a moral disgrace” and “judicial malpractice.”

De Blasio, a Democrat and a presidential candidate, said reforms over the last five years have improved relations between the city’s police and communities.

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11 a.m.

A senior Justice Department official says Attorney General William Barr ultimately decided not to side with prosecutors in the Justice Department’s civil rights division who wanted to charge the officer in Eric Garner’s chokehold death.

The official says Barr had been briefed multiple times and watched the video himself several times. The official says he made the ultimate decision to side with federal prosecutors in New York who did not want to charge Officer Daniel Pantaleo.

The official was not authorized to discuss investigative matters and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

The official says authorities watched the Garner video “countless” times but weren’t convinced Pantaleo acted willfully in the seconds after the chokehold was applied.

The official says that prosecutors had to examine Pantaleo’s state of mind and that it would be a “high standard” to prove the case to a jury. Prosecutors also considered whether he violated NYPD’s policy on chokeholds.

— Colleen Long in Washington

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10:40 a.m.

The Rev. Al Sharpton says Eric Garner’s family has been told that the government won’t bring civil rights charges in his death — a decision he calls “a moral disgrace” and “judicial malpractice.”

Sharpton spoke at an emotional news conference after the family met with prosecutors in New York on Tuesday.

He says the decision shows that people’s federal civil rights are not protected “no matter what the evidence is.”

Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, says the government “has let us down.”

Officers were attempting to arrest Garner in 2014 on charges he sold loose, untaxed cigarettes outside a convenience store. Garner refused to be handcuffed, and officers took him down.

A medical examiner found a chokehold contributed to his death.

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9:45 a.m.

Federal prosecutors won’t bring civil rights charges against a New York City police officer in the 2014 chokehold death of Eric Garner.

That’s according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke Tuesday to The Associated Press. The person wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Officers were attempting to arrest Garner on charges he sold loose, untaxed cigarettes outside a Staten Island convenience store. Garner refused to be handcuffed, and officers took him down.

Garner’s dying words, “I can’t breathe,” became a rallying cry for police reform activists.

A state grand jury refused to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo on criminal charges.

Chokeholds are banned under police policy. Pantaleo maintained he used a legal takedown maneuver called the “seatbelt.”

The medical examiner found a chokehold contributed to Garner’s death.

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