Source | Huffington Post
A police officer who choked an unarmed man to death on a public sidewalk will not face trial. This is the second recent high-profile case in which a grand jury declined to indict a white police officer who had killed an unarmed black civilian — first Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and now Eric Garner on Staten Island, New York.
Those decisions underscore a fundamental truth about police force in America: that the laws are deeply stacked against the possibility that police officers will be charged, let alone convicted, of killing civilians, particularly African-Americans.
In Garner’s case, the medical examiner ruled his death at the hands of the New York City Police Department a homicide. Garner had repeatedly pleaded that he couldn’t breathe while an officer held him in a chokehold, which is itself barred by NYPD rules. The homicide occurred in broad daylight and was filmed from close range.
Police officers Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo were treated much differently from typical killers.
Prosecutors have wide discretion regarding what evidence to provide a grand jury and need only show that there is enough to believe charges are warranted. In Wilson’s case, the transcripts show that the prosecutor took pains to present as much conflicting evidence as possible, instead of relying on the multiple witnesses who said the officer shot Brown while his hands were up. Typically, such conflicting evidence is presented in public to a trial jury, not in private to a grand jury. Wilson’s prosecutor also did not lay out a cohesive narrative of the shooting, instead dumping a lot of evidence before the jurors and leaving them to sort it out.
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