“The evidence here does not support Officer Daniel Pantaleo or any other officer with a federal civil rights violation,” said Richard Donoghue, the U.S. attorney for eastern New York. “Even if we could prove that Officer Pantaleo’s hold of Mr. Garner constituted unreasonable force, we would still have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Pantaleo acted willfully in violation of the law.”
Attorney General William Barr made the decision, which was made a day before the statute of limitations on the case was set to expire and before the five year anniversary of Garner’s death. In 2014, Pantaleo and several other NYPD officers stopped Garner for allegedly selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, according to NBC New York. Garner refused to be handcuffed and was put in a chokehold. Garner was pronounced dead at the hospital, with a medical examiner ruling the death as a homicide caused partly by the chokehold. A Staten Island grand jury ruled that charges should not be brought against Pantaleo on December 3 of that year. Garner yelled “I can’t breathe” during the chokehold, which became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Gwen Carr, the mother of Garner, said that the government “has let us down” during a press conference held after her family met with prosecutors in New York, according to a video of the conference by PBS News Hour.
Garner’s daughter also spoke at the conference to call for the firing of Pantaleo. “Five years later and there’s still no justice,” she said.
Here’s everything you need to know about Eric Garner’s family.
1. Eric Garner’s Mother Said that the Government “Has Let Us Down”
During the news conference, Carr said that the U.S. Department of Justice has failed them.
“We look for better from them,” she said. “Five years ago, my son said ‘I can’t breathe’ 11 times, and today we can’t breathe because they have let us down.”
Carr called for Pantaleo and all the officers involved in the incident that led to Eric’s death to be taken off the force.
“The streets of New York City is not safe with them walking around,” she said.
Carr said that she’s going to keep fighting.
“You think it’s swept under the rug?” she said. “No! It’s not going to be swept under the rug because I’m out here. You all know my faith and you’re going to see it even more now.”
One of Eric’s daughters, Emerald, said at the conference that her children “have to watch their grandfather be killed on TV every time the news comes on.” She also called for Pantaleo to be fired.
“My sister died fighting for justice,” Emerald said. “You won’t kill me.”
You can see the full conference in the video above from PBS News Hour.
2. Eric Garner Had Six Children with His Wife
Eric Garner had six children, according to New York Daily News.
The children are Erica, Shardineé, Emerald, Eric Jr., Emery and Legacy.
According to Emerald’s statement on the now defunct Indiegogo page for the family, Shardineé was eight months old and the mother of Eric’s wife, Esaw, when she first met Eric. Emerald said that Eric “stepped up and took over” the role of being a father to Shardineé after he and Esaw got married in August 1989, according to Heavy.
Esaw told New York Daily News that her husband was a “nonviolent gentle giant.”
Esaw appeared on Rev. Al Sharpton’s MSNBC show Politics Nation after the decision to clear Pantaleo of charges in 2014 to tearfully express her anger at the decision and her hope that an investigation will result in charges, as Heavy reported. She also said that Pantaleo’s apology “means absolutely nothing.”
“It is never my intention to harm anyone and I feel very bad about the death of Mr. Garner,” Pantaleo said in a statement released after the grand jury decision in 2014. “My family and I include him and his family in our prayers and I hope that they will accept my personal condolences for their loss.”
3. Eric’s Daughter, Erica, Was an Activist for Police Reform
Erica, the oldest daughter of Eric Garner, was an activist for police reform after her father died, according to NBC News.
Erica marched in Black Lives Matter demonstrations and founded the Garner Way Foundation in 2015. In a statement to News One, Erica said that “with this foundation I will fight to engage communities all over the world in this struggle through political awareness, music, arts and community activism.”
NBC News reports that she was an outspoken critic of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Democratic establishment. She also was a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 election. “I trusted establishment Democrats who claimed to represent me, only to later watch them ignore and explain away the injustice of my father’s death,” she wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.
Erica died on December 30, 2017 at age 27, according to NBC News. She was in a coma after a heart attack brought on by an asthma attack, according to NBC New York. Erica had her first heart attack after giving birth to her son in August. Erica had asthma just like her father.
4. The Family Raised $44,567 in Just One Month After Eric’s Death
Emerald created an Indiegogo page to help raise money for the family after Eric’s death. The page raised $44,567 in one month, according to Heavy.
“My dad was our everything he was here for my siblings and I since day one,” Emerald wrote on the campaign’s page.
Eric Jr. is a basketball player and attended Kentucky University, according to his Facebook page.
In 2015, he posted a photo of him with his father. He said in the photo that he knows that he’s looking down on him and guiding him in the right way.
5. Eric’s Wife Refused to Accept Eric’s Daughter Legacy into the Family
The mother of one of Eric’s daughters, Legacy, is not Esaw but Jewel Miller.
In 2015, Esaw told New York Daily News that “as far as her [Legacy] being accepted into our family, that’ll never happen.”
Miller told the Huffington Post that Legacy was only three months old when Eric died. She added that since the child was in the hospital for two of those three months, born weighing two pounds and one ounce, the two only had 37 days together.