New York City is waiting on a Justice Department investigation to bring closure in the Eric Garner case. The problem: The investigation is unlikely to ever happen.
It’s been nearly four years since New York Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo used a banned chokehold in July 2014 that killed Garner. Months after Garner’s death, a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo. The Obama Justice Department launched a civil rights investigation that’s now being held up by the new DOJ, headed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Sessions, who is unabashedly pro law enforcement in civil rights matters, asked city officials to delay an administrative trial that could, at least, result in Pantaleo getting fired form the department. The city is complying, the New York Times reported.
In the meantime, Pantaleo is on desk duty while the Garner family has no resolution. It appears to many that the city is protecting the officer.
Here’s a news flash for Mayor Bill de Blasio: The Sessions Justice Department has little interest in even conducting an investigation.
In November, Sessions sent a memo that signaled “an attack on the civil rights legacy of the Obama-era Justice Department,” the ACLU noted. Sessions is dismantling Obama’s efforts to eliminate racially biased policing. Indeed, the Trump administration is pursing few civil rights cases, according to an analysis by Vice News. The DOJ’s civil rights activities have fallen to a 17-year low, while the department that oversees police misconduct has been inactive.
In 2017, New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, which independently reviews claims of police misconduct, recommended that the police department dismiss Pantaleo for misconduct. However, the city continues to wait on the DOJ before holding an administrative trial. Officials are waiting for a federal investigation that’s simply not coming.