The decision comes in the wake of the Ferguson, Missouri grand jury decision to not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the now infamous death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
One difference in the NY case was the presence of a video that showed the entire incident. Garner raised both hands and told the officers not to touch him. A few seconds later the video shows officer Pantaleo grabbing Garner in a chokehold from behind and taking him down with the assistance of 3 other police officers.
Garner can be heard repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe!” The video shows Pantaleo with his knees and hands on Garner’s face, pushing it into the sidewalk.
The 43-year-old Garner was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital. The cause of death, as determined by the medical examiner’s office was “compression of the neck”, compression of the chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.
According to media reports, the grand jury was comprised of23 members, 14 whites and nine non-white. A total of 12 jurors must be in agreement for a decision in the case.
Garner was suspected of illegally selling loose cigarettes and had more than 30 arrests for similar offenses; but, according to reports he had just broken up a fight across the street prior to the arrival of police officers.