There has been much in the news about the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice, who were killed by police, and the subsequent protests that followed a decision not to indict the officers involved in Brown’s and Garner’s death – Rice’s death is under investigation to see if an indictment will happen.
I come from a country that does not have police armed with guns as a norm for patrolling the streets, so I find it difficult to comment on that as it is so out of my realm of experience, but the death of Eric Garner – which was deemed to have resulted from compression of the neck and body and the prone positioning he was in, with his asthma, heart disease and obesity being contributing factors – is something I wanted to write about.
The police officer who compressed his neck, by putting him in a chokehold which had been banned by the New York City Police Department will not face indictment – even though Eric Garner’s death was ruled a homicide.
This is the part I find most disturbing. I find it so disturbing because, no matter what you think about the character/motives/actions of Garner or Officer Pantaleo who used the chokehold – I always had the belief that in this country, if a death is ruled a homicide that there would always be a formal charge/investigation, a time in court, with some kind of punishment, if found guilty, that resulted in time in prison. Maybe that is simplistic, but I had faith in the justice system here, that if a homicide is found to have occurred, then the person responsible for that homicide would be held accountable. I thought that was just the way things work here.
It seems that you can kill someone, and their death be ruled a homicide, and no formal accountability is taken. Officer Pantaleo has been stripped of his badge and gun – but in my mind this does not reflect what should happen in a homicide case – there should always be an indictment when a police officer is involved – this at least gives the officer their day in court – like anyone else would have to go through. By not indicting an officer in the case of a death ruled as a homicide, it gives the impression that there is an element of bias – irrespective of race – in the favour of the police, which then leads to a perspective that some officers are above the law.
I thought there was an innate sense of fairness in this country, and the death of Eric Garner, ruled as a homicide, where the officer is not indicted seems, at best, unfair, but at worst, something far more insidiously pervasive.
I am not saying Officer Pantaleo should be thrown to the wolves, I just really believe he should have his day in court.
What are your thoughts?
This post is being shared on the following: