Cop in Chokehold Death of NY Man Expresses ‘Condolences’ to Garner Family – NBCNews.com

Protests were expected in New York and Washington after a grand jury on Wednesday declined to indict a white NYPD officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man on Staten Island — and the officer involved issued a statement expressing his “personal condolences” over the death of Eric Garner.

A grand jury decided there was not probable cause to charge officer Daniel Pantaleo in the July 17 death of Eric Garner, who was put in a chokehold by Pantaleo during an arrest for allegedly selling unlicensed cigarettes, and later died after telling officers, “I can’t breathe!”

In a statement delivered through the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Pantaleo offered his condolences to Garner’s family after the grand jury indictment became known.

“I became a police officer to help people and to protect those who can’t protect themselves. It is never my intention to harm anyone and I feel very bad about the death of Mr. Garner,” Pantaleo said in the statement. “My family and I include him and his family in our prayers and I hope that they will accept my personal condolences for their loss.”

The medical examiner’s office had ruled Garner’s death a homicide and cell phone video captured the incident.

Jonathan Moore, an attorney for Garner’s family, told the Associated Press that he was surprised by the grand jury’s decision. “I am actually astonished based on the evidence of the video tape, and the medical examiner, that this grand jury at this time wouldn’t indict for anything, is really just astonishing,” Moore said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio cancelled an appearance at the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting and said he would meet with elected officials and clergy on Staten Island.

Richmond County District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan Jr., the prosecutor in the case, expressed his “condolences to Eric Garner’s family for their loss, and to acknowledge the heartache of his mother, his wife, his children, as well as his other family members, loved ones, and friends, who have consistently carried themselves with grace during the past four months.”

PBA President Patrick Lynch defended the grand jury’s decision Wednesday and said “there are no winners here today.”

“There was a loss of life that both a family and a police officer will always have to live with. It is clear that the officer’s intention was to do nothing more than take Mr. Garner into custody as instructed and that he used the take down technique that he learned in the academy when Mr. Garner refused,” Lynch, said after the grand jury’s decision became known. “No police officer starts a shift intending to take another human being’s life and we are all saddened by this tragedy.”

— with Phil Helsel



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