Outrage greets NY grand jury decision on choking death

December 04, 2014 08:40
Demonstrators react after a New York grand jury decided not to charge a white policeman in the choking death of an unarmed black man. Photo: Reuters

New York is bracing for further unrest after a grand jury decided not to charge a white police officer who choked an unarmed black man to death.

The decision sparked outrage and protests on Wednesday across New York, Reuters reported.

The Justice Department said it will investigate the death of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old father of six.

Garner was illegally selling cigarettes on July 17 when police officers tackled him and put him in a chokehold.

Police said he had resisted arrest. The city's medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.

The deadly encounter on Staten Island, New York City's smallest borough, was captured on video, which quickly spread in the internet and fueled debate about how US police use force, particularly against minorities.

Last week, a grand jury in Missouri decided not to indict a white police officer in another racially charged killing of a black man, sparking a wave of violence.

About two dozen demonstrators lay down in Grand Central Terminal's main hall in Midtown Manhattan in a silent protest as the evening rush hour began.

In Times Square, about 200 people gathered, chanting "No indictment is denial. We want a public trial."

President Barack Obama, while not directly commenting on the case, said the grand jury decision spoke to "the concern on the part of too many minority communities that law enforcement is not working with them and dealing with them in a fair way".

It is rare for either federal or state prosecutors to charge a US police officer for excessive force, even when a death results.

The US Supreme Court and lower courts have over decades ruled that police officers should have wide latitude to use violence to defend themselves and to take suspects into custody.

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