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Statement from Mayor de Blasio on Department of Justice Decision Regarding the Death of Eric Garner

July 16, 2019

“With the fifth anniversary of the tragic death of Eric Garner less than 24 hours away, federal law enforcement agencies have just announced they will not pursue charges against Officer Pantaleo. Years ago, we put our faith in the federal government to act. We won’t make that mistake again.

“New York City is not the same city it was five years ago. We are a different city, and we must act like a different city. Moving forward, we will not wait for the federal government to commence our own disciplinary proceedings.

“Reforms over the last five years have improved relations between our police and our communities. Crime is at record lows, and last year, we arrested 150,000 fewer people than the year before we came into office.

“This further reform will make sure no family ever waits years for the answers they deserve.”

Background on City Policy Change:

Moving forward, the City will follow the below policy after the death of an unarmed citizen during an interaction with the NYPD:

In the event of the death of an unarmed civilian involving a police officer, the Police Department or CCRB will begin its disciplinary process immediately, unless the victim’s family requests that the Police Commissioner allow the criminal case to proceed first, or a judge compels the City to delay its process until a prosecutor finishes their investigation.

Call for Federal Action:

The City will call for congressional action or executive rulemaking that compels the Justice Department to notify families within one year of whether it intends to proceed with a case of death of an unarmed civilian involving a police officer, and immediately notify the family if the DOJ subsequently closes or reopens the investigation.

If new facts arise after the one-year deadline, the federal government should be able to re-open the investigation and move forward with litigation within the statute of limitations.

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