Garner Decision 'Beyond Mystifying'

'NYT': 'Vicious policing' needs to stop
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2014 1:58 AM CST
Garner Decision 'Beyond Mystifying'
In this undated family photo provided by the National Action Network, Eric Garner, right, poses with his children during a family outing.   (AP Photo/Family photo via National Action Network)

The words "travesty," "outrageous," and "mystifying" feature heavily in editorial columns on a grand jury's decision not to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner, despite the fact that the officer was captured on video using a banned chokehold on the asthmatic man.

  • The decision not to charge Pantaleo with "even New York’s least serious homicide count—criminally negligent homicide—is beyond mystifying," writes the New York Daily News, saying the decision has the "glaring earmarks of a gross miscarriage of justice" and is harder to understand than the equally controversial Ferguson decision. To indict, the grand jury would only have needed to find indications that the officer failed "to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk" of death from using the chokehold.

  • "African American men are being taught a lesson about how this society values, or devalues, our lives," writes Eugene Robinson in a blistering column at the Washington Post, saying that as with Ferguson, he finds it impossible to believe that the result would have been the same if the victim was white. Garner "didn't even fit into the 'young black male' category that defines this nation's most feared and loathed citizens," he writes. "He was an overweight, middle-aged, asthmatic man. Now we're told that the man who killed him did nothing wrong." Garner, he writes, "committed a capital offense: He was the wrong color."
  • The imbalance between Garner's fate "and his supposed infraction, selling loose cigarettes, is grotesque and outrageous," writes the New York Times, describing the incident as "vicious policing" and calling for Pantaleo to be fired. Any police force that tolerates conduct like Pantaleo's needs to be reformed, the NYT writes, and the Justice Department "is right to swiftly investigate what certainly seem like violations of Mr. Garner's civil rights."
  • At Slate, Justin Peters takes a look at New York City's "broken windows" policing policy and concludes that it not only doesn't work, it may have killed Garner. The policy of cracking down hard on minor violations of the law has returned to New York City as the use of stop-and-frisk declines, he writes, but since violent crime is already declining across the country, regardless of policing tactics, he suggests a new NYPD policy: "First, do no harm."
(Read more Eric Garner stories.)

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