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More Than a Year After His Death, Eric Garner’s Family Is Still Waiting for Justice

Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner, leads a march of people protesting the Staten Island, New York grand jury's decision not to indict a police officer involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner in July, on Dec. 11, 2014 in the Staten Island Neighborhood of New York City. Protests have continued throughout the country since the Grand Jury's decision was announced last week. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner, leads a march of people protesting the Staten Island, New York grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner in July, on Dec. 11, 2014 in the Staten Island neighborhood of New York City.  (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

More than a year after the death of her father, Erica Garner, the daughter of Eric Garner, a Black man who was choked to death by a New York Police Department officer, is still waiting for justice.

Erica Garner recently expressed her frustration in a blog on The Huffington Post. She complained about how slow the wheels of justice were moving and wondered if the officers who killed her father would ever be brought to justice.

“Sure, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed a special prosecutor to investigate police-related killings after my father’s death,” said Erica Garner in a post co-written with Reggie Harris, political director at the Garner Way Foundation. “What’s the likelihood that this appointment — which only lasts one year — will be renewed by the Republican controlled state legislature?”

A grand jury declined to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who was captured on video with his arm around Eric Garner’s neck.  Garner’s death set off nationwide protests and helped launch the Black Lives Matter movement. Since then, Daniel Donovan, the district attorney who presented the case to a Staten Island grand jury, has been elected to Congress. Erica Garner says his successor, Daniel Master, the new Staten Island district attorney, has shown no indication he plans to prosecute Pantaleo.

The federal civil rights investigation into Eric Garner’s death is moving along at snail’s pace. The Huffington Post said federal cases can take up to four years to work their way through the criminal justice system. According to HuffPost, experts say it’s unlikely that Pantaleo will face federal charges.

The NYPD also said they won’t discipline Pantaleo until the Department of Justice concludes its investigation. Pantaleo was relieved of his gun and has been on modified duty since Garner’s death last July.

However, the Garner family is still continuing its fight for justice. The Garner family has requested the unsealed minutes from the grand jury proceeding and the release of records of complaints against Pantaleo filed with the Civilian Complaint Review Board. They are also continuing to lobby for Master to convene a new grand jury.

Protesters are planning two demonstrations— one at the mayor’s residence at Gracie Mansion in Manhattan, and the other at the site of Garner’s death in Staten Island, according to Huff Post.

Erica Garner also expressed frustration with the political system and questioned its ability to stop police killings.

“Is it reform or revolution? Which of these will bring real change? Will body cameras make a difference? Will training really stop this epidemic of police-involved killings, or will it just create better killers? Who do our elected officials really work for? More importantly, what will we do if we learn it’s not the people?”

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