Criminal Justice

AG nominee will lead federal probe into Eric Garner's chokehold death

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Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee for attorney general, will lead the federal civil rights investigation into the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

Grand jurors on Wednesday declined to indict the white New York police officer who put Garner, who is black, in a chokehold during his arrest for allegedly selling loose cigarettes, report the New York Times and the Washington Post. The decision led to mostly peaceful protests in Manhattan, Washington, D.C., and other cities.

The officer, Daniel Pantaleo, 29, had testified he was trying to take Garner down rather than to choke him, the New York Times reports in this story. Chokeholds were banned by the New York City Police Department in 1993, according to the Times. The incident was videotaped. Pantaleo’s lawyer, Stuart London, said his client acknowledged he heard Garner saying he couldn’t breathe, but felt that the suspect’s ability to talk suggested otherwise.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced the civil rights investigation late Wednesday, report the National Law Journal (sub. req.) and another Washington Post story. In a statement, he said Garner’s death was as “one of several recent incidents across the country that have tested the sense of trust that must exist between law enforcement and the communities they are charged to serve and protect.” He urged protesters to remain peaceful.

A video from the scene of Garner’s death is below; it contains images which may be upsetting to viewers.

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