The Justice Department is shaking up the inquiry into Eric Garner’s death, replacing the New York lawyers and agents who were assigned to the case. The move could breathe new life into the inquiry and get the ball rolling to seek criminal charges at the federal level.
In the past few weeks, the FBI agents who were investigating the case were replaced by agents from outside New York, according to five federal agents who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly.
What’s more, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are no longer assigned to the case, though it is unclear whether the Washington civil rights attorneys will then work alone in presenting the case.
This will likely breathe new life into the Eric Garner case, which has been stalled by federal prosecutors and agents from New York who have claimed that there is no basis for criminal charges, while prosecutors with the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department in Washington said that there was ample evidence; including the video of the incident in which Garner could clearly be heard telling officers “I can’t breathe,” a statement that would become a rallying cry for protesters around the nation.
While the Justice Department and FBI have not commented, Stuart London, a lawyer for Officer Pantaleo, responded to the rumors of changes by saying, “If it is true that the Justice Department is rejecting the recommendations of seasoned F.B.I. agents and assistant United States attorneys, this is a gross miscarriage of justice. In our system of justice, politics should never take the place of the rule of law.”