Justice for Eric Garner

On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner was killed on a Staten Island sidewalk after being placed in an NYPD-banned chokehold by Officer Daniel Pantaleo, during a false and illegal arrest while Eric pleaded "I can't breathe" eleven times. The killing, captured on video, showed many officers who used force in the unlawful arrest and many failed to intervene or provide aid. NYPD officials and officers also attempted to cover up the killing, first claiming that Garner died of a heart attack, illegally leaking sealed records to criminalize Mr. Garner, and lying on official reports. 

In August 2019, after five long years of obstruction and refusal by Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD to take action, and tireless organizing by Gwen Carr, Eric Garner's mother, Ellisha Flagg Garner, Garner's sister, the Garner family, and community organizers, Officer Daniel Pantaleo, was finally fired. His firing followed a CCRB prosecuted disciplinary trial that concluded in June 2019 which found that Officer Pantaleo violated Department procedures such as the decades-long ban on the chokehold maneuver.

In August 2019, Eric Garner's mother, sister, and Ramarley Graham's mother, along with CPR members, announced a petition to the New York Supreme Court. The petition demanded a judicial inquiry into the violations and neglect of duty by Mayor Bill de Blasio, his administration, and others related to the unjust killing of Eric Garner, the cover-up that continues to this day, and the corresponding failure to discipline officers for misconduct in a meaningful or timely manner.

Mayor de Blasio responded to petitioners by filing a motion to dismiss the petition. New York State Supreme Court Judge Joan A. Madden heard arguments in the city's motion to dismiss in August 2020. 

On September 24, 2020, six years after the killing of Eric Garner, Justice  Madden ruled in petitioners’ favor in their request for a judicial inquiry. The judge ruled that a public judicial inquiry into potential violations and neglect of duty by the de Blasio administration, including former NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill, and other top police officials arising from the death of Eric Garner, could proceed.

Unhappy with the court’s decision, the City tried to block the petition by filing a notice of appeal and by attempting to argue that there was an automatic stay to all further proceedings before the Supreme Court while the City’s appeal was pending. In December 2020, Justice Madden rejected the City’s arguments, once again allowing proceedings related to the inquiry to move forward, unless the City won a stay from an appeals court.  

On February 12, 2021, the City filed a motion with the Appellate Division, First Department, the appeals court, seeking to stay the judicial inquiry. On March 23, 2021, the First Department denied this request. The First Department heard the appeal on May 25, 2021, and denied the appeal on July 15, 2021.

Following Justice Madden’s retirement from the bench, Justice Erika M. Edwards was assigned to preside over the case.

In addition to the petition brought under Section 1109, the Gwen Carr, the Justice Committee, and Communities United for Police Reform submitted a Freedom of Information Law request to the NYPD and the Civilian Complaint Review Board relating to Mr. Garner’s arrest and killing, 

In October 2021, the judicial inquiry began in New York State Supreme Court on October 25, 2021, and lasted for approximately two weeks, until November 5, 2021.

During the inquiry, we learned that NYPD Deputy Commissioner Joseph Reznick, who was in charge of the investigation of the killing, did not investigate illegal leaks of Eric Garner’s medical or sealed criminal legal records. Officer Justin Damico lied on official NYPD reports and Lt. Christopher Bannon texted it was “not a big deal” that Eric might be DOA (dead on arrival).

Parties to the petition include Gwen Carr, Ellisha Flagg Garner, Constance Malcolm, mother of Ramarley Graham, Loyda Colon of Justice Committee, Joo-Hyun Kang of Communities United for Police Reform, Monifa Bandele of MomsRising, Kesi Foster of Make the Road, and Mark Winston Griffith of Brooklyn Movement Center. They were represented by Alvin Bragg, Gideon Oliver, and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP.

Help uplift the demands of Eric Garner’s family:

  • That ALL NYPD officers and officials who engaged in misconduct related to the killing of Eric Garner be held accountable and fired from the NYPD.
  • For full access to ALL NYPD and CCRB records of the case.

News on Eric Garner

Change of Commissioner Spotlights De Blasio’s Record on Police Reform

08/05/2016
Gotham Gazette

Many believe that the biggest responsibility of the Mayor of New York City is to keep people safe and Bill de Blasio has largely done that, in no small part by letting his lightning-rod police commissioner, Bill Bratton, call the shots on public safety policy. The mayor has focused on pre-kindergarten and affordable housing while Bratton has governed the streets, helping bring crime down to historic lows.

'We Protect our Communities': Cop Watchers Speak Out

05/12/2016
NBC News

QUEENS, N.Y. — On a recent evening in a nondescript apartment building in the Jackson Heights section of Queens, a small group of young social justice activists gather for a weekly ritual.

Armed with handheld video cameras and know-your-rights pamphlets, they hash out a strategy and exchange information about police movements in the area. All write on their arms the phone number of a lawyer who will bail them out of jail if things go awry.

Need for police accountability, transparency and right to know - OpEd by CPR Leader Monifa Bandele

02/18/2016
New York Amsterdam News

Last week’s conviction of NYPD officer Peter Liang, the first conviction of a NYPD officer for killing a civilian in more than a decade, is an important step forward for justice for Akai Gurley’s family and police accountability. However, it hardly represents equal justice for our communities with respect to policing, or an end to the preferential double standard that most officers have experienced when they brutalize or kill.

One Year After the Eric Garner Non-Indictment, Has Anything Changed?

12/04/2015
Vice

On Thursday exactly a year ago, New York City was practically on fire. The startling decision last December 3 by a grand jury to not indict Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer behind the videotaped death of Eric Garner, blew the lid off a razzled metropolis whose citizens were already familiar with police brutality and discrimination. By then, of course, protests had spread across the country, due to the nearly concurrent decision with Michael Brown's case in Ferguson. In New York, as in Missouri, the anger was palpable—like you could reach out and touch it. And it stayed that way, for a while.

A year after Eric Garner's death, experts say case has spawned important changes

07/16/2015
Newsday

On the first anniversary of the NYPD's apparent neckhold killing of Eric Garner during an arrest for selling loose cigarettes, the Justice Department has still not decided on federal charges, but experts say the case has already set in motion potentially far-reaching changes in policing in New York.

One year after Eric Garner's death, a quest for path out of 'police-community hostility'

One year ago, bystander videos captured the arrest and killing by chokehold of Eric Garner. His death began a year of bipartisan soul-searching as many began to contemplate what needs to be done as the nation moves forward.
07/17/2015
Christian Science Monitor

On a muggy, midweek evening in early July, about 700 police officers, just a week on the job, gathered at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem, ready to watch a candid onstage conversation between six veteran cops and six inner city kids.

The fresh-faced newbie cops, as some of the veterans call them, were the first to graduate from the New York Police Department’s gleaming new $750 million training facility in College Point, Queens. They are also some of the first to be trained under the department’s revamped training programs.

NYPD Routinely Rejected Discipline In Chokehold Cases, Report Finds

01/12/2015
Huffington Post

NEW YORK -- In January 2008, a teenage high-school student in the Bronx had an argument with her principal. An NYPD officer assigned to the school quickly arrived to subdue the unruly student.

What happened next was caught on video: The officer put the student in a chokehold.

Cuomo Pushing for Grand Jury Reports in Police Fatality Cases

01/21/2015
DNAinfo

NEW YORK CITY—Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced a plan to allow district attorneys to release grand jury information in cases where police kill unarmed civilians and the panel declines to indict the officers involved.

"People have to trust the justice system," Cuomo said during his State of the State address Wednesday in Albany.

Amid Heightened Tension, Advocates Push Cuomo to Veto Police Discipline Bill

12/05/2014
Gotham Gazette

A day after a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, two of most powerful men in the state, said they are interested in passing major criminal justice reforms during next year's legislative session.

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