Timeline: Eric Garner's Chokehold Death - NBC Bay Area
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Timeline: Eric Garner's Chokehold Death

Vigil, March for Eric Garner, Who Died in NYPD Custody

Hundreds gathered feet from where Eric Garner lost his life while in police custody last week. His death is angering residents and prompting NYPD commissioner William Bratton to call for more police training. Gus Rosendale reports. (Published Wednesday, July 23, 2014)

A timeline of events after Eric Garner's death while he was being arrested on Staten Island:

Thursday, July 17, 2014: Eric Garner is arrested for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes on Victory Boulevard and Bay Street in the Tompkinsville section of Staten Island. Cellphone video captures the unarmed 43-year-old black man being taken into custody, and he's heard saying "I can't breathe, I can't breathe" as officer Daniel Pantaleo places him in an apparent chokehold, a tactic prohibited by NYPD policy. Garner goes into cardiac arrest.  

EMS workers arrive, and they do not appear to administer CPR on Garner. Garner is taken to Richmond University Medical Center, where he is pronounced dead. 

Saturday, July 19: Pantaleo is placed on modified assignment pending further investigation into the video. Another officer involved in the arrest, a four-year veteran of the force, is put on administrative duty but does not have to surrender his gun or shield. Court records show that within the past two years, three men sued Pantaleo, who is white, in federal court over allegedly unlawful, racially motivated arrests. 

Monday, July 21: The four EMS workers who responded after Garner went into cardiac arrest are suspended without pay, after initially being put on modified duty. The workers -- two EMTs and two paramedics -- were not city employees, but worked for Richmond University Medical Center. 

Tuesday, July 22: NYPD Commissioner William Bratton says the police department would retrain its officers on the use of force, which includes sending a team of officers to Los Angeles to learn how that city's police department modified its use-of-force protocols after several high-profile episodes of brutality.

About 100 people gather in a vigil and march for Eric Garner in Tompkinsville, the first of several protests against what demonstrators deem police brutality. 

Wednesday, July 23: Hundreds gather in Brooklyn for Garner's funeral, including his six children. Sharpton speaks at the funeral: "Let's not play games with this. You don't need no training to stop choking a man saying 'I can't breathe.' You don't need no cultural orientation to stop choking a man saying 'I can't breathe.' You need to be prosecuted and you need to be put away."

Thursday, July 31: Mayor de Blasio hosts a discussion with the police commissioner and the Rev. Al Sharpton -- one of the police department's most outspoken critics -- to try to ease tensions with minority communities after Garner's death. Sharpton provacatively invokes de Blasio's teenage son, whose mother is black: "If Dante wasn't your son, he'd be a candidate for a chokehold. And we've got to deal with that reality." 

Also, Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan says he'll determine whether to empanel a grand jury and charges officers in Garner's death. The D.A.'s office has a strong working relationship with the NYPD and has constituents who are overwhelmingly white and include many officers and their relatives.

Civil rights attorney Normal Siegel, a former head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said his instincts tell him the jury pool in a criminal case "would be more open and fair if it was in the federal court."

"Without stereotyping all Staten Islanders, there are problems with racial thinking throughout the city, including among segments of Staten Island," Siegel said.

Friday, August 1: The city's medical examiner rules Garner's death a homicide, saying a chokehold killed him. The medical examiner says compression of the neck and chest, along with Garner's positioning on the ground while being restrained by police caused his death. Garner's acute and chronic bronchial asthma, obesity and hypertensive cardiovascular disease were contributing factors

Tuesday, August 5: PBA President Patrick Lynch blasts the autopsy report as "political," and denies that Pantaleo used a chokehold while trying to arrest Garner. He denies that race played any role in the confrontation. 

"It is a person's behavior that leads to interactions with police, not who they are, what they look like or how much money they have in their pocket," Lynch said.

Wednesday, August 13: Donovan tells NBC 4 New York's Andrew Siff that he's assigned eight district attorneys and 10 non-NYPD detectives to investigate the Garner case, more people than any other case since he's been in office. He says he's been clear and transparent with Garner's family, and added that the NYPD "deserves answers too." 

"We've got to collect the dots before we connect the dots," he says. 

Tuesday, August 19: Donovan announces the Garner case will go to a grand jury, saying that after reviewing the medical examiner's findings, his office decided "it is appropriate to present evidence regarding circumstances of his death to a Richmond County Grand Jury."

Saturday, August 23: More than 2,500 people march through Staten Island to protest Garner's death. Many carry signs, some reading "Police the NYPD" or "RIP Eric Garner." The most popular signs were "Hands up, don't shoot," echoing protests in Missouri over the police killing of Michael Brown, and "I can't breathe," Garner's last words. They cross the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

Monday, Sept. 15: As part of a renewed focus on police chokeholds after Garner's death, an NYPD watchdog says instances of NYPD chokeholds may be undercounted across the city because of confusion over what actually constitutes a chokehold. 

"Different teams of investigators have used different definitions to identify chokehold cases," says Richard Emery, the chairman of the Civilian Complaint Review Board. 

Friday, Sept. 19, 2014: Renowned forensics expert Michael Barden -- who conducted an independent autopsy on Michael Brown in Ferguson -- agrees with the New York City medical examiner's findings in Garner's death, saying neck compressions led to his death. He backs the Garner family's assertion that his asthma and other health problems weren't what killed him. 

"Compression of the neck that prevents breathing trumps everything else as cause of death," he said.

PBA President Pat Lynch says there's a difference between "compression" and "asphyxiation": "You did not hear the private medical examiner say they saw signs of asphyxiation. What they saw is compression to the neck, which is consistent to the medical treatment Mr. Garner would have received by EMS."

Monday, Sept. 29, 2014: A grand jury begins hearing evidence in the Garner case. 

Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014: Garner's family files notice of claim to sue the city and the NYPD for $75 million, alleging that "negligence, recklessness and carelessness" on the part of police resulted in his chokehold death last July

Friday, Nov. 21: Pantaleo testifies before the Garner grand jury for about two hours, giving his account of Garner's death. The development signals the grand jury could be close to deciding whether Pantaleo should face criminal charges. 

Tuesday, Nov. 25: A grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri decides not to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer accused of shooting and killing Michael Brown. The news sets off protests across the country, including in New York City, where people also protested the deaths of Garner and Akai Gurley, who died Nov. 20 after accidentally being shot by a police officer in a dark stairwell in Brooklyn. 

Wednesday, Nov. 26: Garner's family joins the families of Michael Brown and Akai Gurley in Harlem as Sharpton speaks about the aftermath of the Ferguson grand jury decision. 

Saturday, Nov. 29: As anger over the Michael Brown case in Ferguson persists, protesters take to the streets of Harlem to voice their concerns about the pending grand jury decision in the Eric Garner death. Gwen Carr, Garner's mother, says: "We don't know what the outcome is, but we're praying." 

Sharpton says, referring to the Brown case: "Can we show in New York something different. We're not going to have violence, but we want justice."

Tuesday, Dec. 2: Sources familiar with the grand jury proceedings tell NBC 4 New York a decision in the Garner case is imminent. The 23-member panel is made up of 14 white members and nine non-white members, at least five of whom are black, NBC 4 New York learns.

Officials say they're confident there won't be violent protests in New York City. De Blasio says: "In some places, people may feel the voice of the people are not heard. In this city, the voices are heard." 

Nevertheless, Bratton says the NYPD is prepared for protests in any case. D.A. Donovan says he realizes not everyone will accept the outcome, no matter what the grand jury votes.

Garner's mother Gwen Carr has said she "wouldn't want to see that violence" that swept Ferguson. 

Wednesday, Dec. 3: The Staten Island grand jury declines to indict Pantaleo in Garner's death, determining there was no probable cause that a crime was committed. 

Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announces that the Justice Department will now be conducting its own investigation into Garner's death, and that the prosecutors will also conduct a complete review of the material gathered during the local investigation.

Thursday, Dec. 4: More than 200 demonstrators are arrested as thousands flood the city in protest. Thursday's arrests, the bulk of which police say are on charges of disorderly conduct, are in addition to 83 arrested Wednesday, bringing the total to 306.

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