TheGrio has launched a special series called #BlackonBlue to examine the relationship between law enforcement and African-Americans. Our reporters and videographers will investigate police brutality and corruption while also exploring local and national efforts to improve policing in our communities. Join the conversation, or share your own story, using the hashtag #BlackonBlue.
The haunting and brutal video of Eric Garner dying at the hands of New York police officers is something so troubling that it can’t be forgotten. But the circumstances surrounding his horrific death are fast becoming faint memories that are hard for witnesses to recall.
According to a new court filing by the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the investigation into Garner’s 2014 death has languished on so long that the time lapse has caused the medical examiner and witnesses to forget key facts in their grand jury testimony, the NY Daily News reports.
On Wednesday, the agency argued that their grand jury testimony needs to be unsealed to help them recall facts as the agency works to prosecute Officer Daniel Pantaleo at his upcoming NYPD disciplinary trial.
“The M.E. stated that she wanted to make sure that her testimony at the … trial was consistent with her testimony that she had given to the grand jury and to the (Department of Justice.) However, that would be difficult because of the amount of time that elapsed since those testimonies,” wrote Kerry Jamison, the CCRB’s assistant general counsel.
The NYPD issued disciplinary charges against Pantaleo in July. They first said they would wait until the Department of Justice finished its civil rights investigation into of Garner’s death, but it was taking long and has been four so they moved ahead with disciplinary charges against him.
The outcome from the disciplinary hearing could result in Pantaleo’s firing. He is still employed by the NYPD and has been on desk duty.
Felipe Velez, a witness to the chokehold death that went viral, says that he can’t remember what he initially said either, Jamison wrote.
New York’s newly elected Attorney General Letitia James, has also called for the release of the grand jury minutes. Back in 2015, the then District Attorney Daniel Donovan refused to release the minutes and he was backed by a court that said they would stay sealed.
On Wednesday, the CCRB took another stab at getting the minutes saying it was “strictly for the limited purpose of aiding the CCRB’s prosecution” of Pantaleo.
The CCRB’s Administrative Prosecution Unit is the prosecutor in the departmental trial.
“I’m glad that the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) is vigorously pursuing their disciplinary case against Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who murdered my son Eric with a chokehold that’s been banned by the NYPD for over 20 years,” Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, said Wednesday.
“As they request these files, I hope for a speedy, fair and positive outcome – unlike the long-overdue, unfair process that the NYPD has been using to protect officers who are responsible for Eric’s death.”
“All of the NYPD officers who were responsible for killing Eric, and related misconduct, should be fired,” she said.