Gwen Carr, the mother of the late Eric Garner, whose death was filmed as police placed him in a chokehold in 2014, called for all of the police officers who were involved in her son’s death be removed from the New York Police Department.
“The DOJ has killed Eric all over again, and today we are the ones who are finding it difficult to breathe,” Carr wrote in an op-ed for the New York Daily News.
Carr’s demand was published on Wednesday, the fifth anniversary of Garner’s death. She penned it in reaction to the Justice Department’s decision a day earlier not to press federal civil rights charges against Staten Island Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who put Garner in a chokehold and held him down as he cried, “I can’t breathe.”
A bystander filmed Garner’s death and shared the video online, prompting a nationwide uproar over police brutality against unarmed black men and further elevating the Black Lives Matter movement.
Carr appealed directly to New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill to fire Pantaleo and the officers involved in Garner’s fatal arrest.
“They all must be off the force,” she said.
The five-year statute of limitations to charge Pantaleo also expired on Wednesday. To date, the officer remains on NYPD’s payroll and has never been charged with a crime for his part in Garner’s death. Pantaleo was, however, stripped of his gun and badge and placed on desk duty after arresting Garner.
Carr described Garner’s death as “murder” and said that the involved officers, including Pantaleo, received “a slap on the wrist ― if that.” She highlighted reports that Pantaleo’s pay increased in the years following Garner’s death due to overtime.
Carr also singled out Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is currently campaigning for the presidency, for the absence of punishment against the officers and vowed to continue fighting for justice on Garner’s behalf.
“The NYPD failed us. Mayor de Blasio failed us. And now the DOJ has failed us,” she wrote. “But we aren’t going anywhere and we will not be silenced.”
U.S. Attorney General William Barr said he was ultimately responsible for the decision to not pursue federal charges against Pantaleo.
Pantaleo still awaits the verdict of a disciplinary trial which ended in June that would determine whether he will be fired from the department, according to The New York Times. O’Neill will make a formal decision on the matter after the verdict is delivered.