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CAIR-NY Slams DOJ for Failure to Charge NYPD Officer for Eric Garner’s Death

Muslim civil rights group calls on NY mayor and NYPD commissioner to fire Officer Pantaleo

(NEW YORK, N.Y., 7/16/19) – The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) today slammed the Justice Department for its decision not to pursue federal charges against Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed African-American man, who died after being put in a chokehold.

On July 17, 2014, Garner, who was approached by police for peddling loose cigarettes, raised both hands in the air and asked officers not to touch him. A video shows officers place him in a chokehold and throw him to the sidewalk. While being held down by multiple officers, Garner said, “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!”

The medical examiner reported that the cause of Garner’s death was “compression of neck (chokehold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.” That examiner also said the manner of death was “homicide.”

The DOJ’s decision comes 5 years after Mr. Garner’s death. Officer Pantaleo is currently on desk duty at the NYPD. 

SEE: Prosecutors say they could not prove NYPD officer acted willfully in Eric Garner’s death

In a statement, CAIR-NY Litigation Director Ahmed Mohamed said:

“Today’s decision is not surprising. The Justice Department has a track record of failure when it comes to holding police officers accountable for killing unarmed black men. Mr. Garner’s death was a homicide and Officer Pantaleo has received a free pass. Today’s decision highlights why the Black Lives Matter movement is needed and why police reform must be a priority for the NYPD and law enforcement agencies nationwide. Mayor DeBlasio and Commissioner O’Neil must act swiftly to terminate Officer Pantaleo.”

CAIR-NY is asking the public to post messages of solidarity with the Garner family using the #Icantbreathe along with photos of their mouths taped shut on social media.

In 2014, a New York jury failed to indict Officer Pantaleo for the Garner’s death.

SEE: CAIR-NY ‘Dismayed’ at Grand Jury Decision to Not Indict on NYPD Chokehold Death

CAIR-NY is a chapter of America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.


CONTACT: Ahmed Mohamed, CAIR-NY Litigation Director:; 646-481-2103



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