by Linzey Box, New York Magazine, April 12, 2016
“The problem is the charge,” he says. “That’s the problem. Why is that charge available to [police] Commissioner Bratton?”
It all became clear in the moments after a Staten Island grand jury dropped a charge of manslaughter against the policeman accused of choking Eric Garner. The case was an excellent illustration of the divides between police officers and minority communities in New York. Eric Garner, a suspected drug dealer, was stopped by police in July last year. He was held down and pronounced unconscious.
Many familiar with the case saw the episode as emblematic of the violence against minorities that has risen during the recession.
His death was followed a month later by the indictment of Daniel Pantaleo, who was allegedly part of the team that put Garner in the chokehold. That indictment, however, was dismissed on Monday, when the grand jury decided not to press charges.
“This case became a symbol,” says Bragg, “and you might say it spoke out loudly against systemic violence in law enforcement. I’m always a little cautious about the grand jury saying one thing and then the commissioner saying another. And I can tell you that from my previous experiences — I’m going to be telling my colleagues that this sends a signal to the department and to the country that this is the message we want to be sending.”
Bragg will make his own mark on the U.S. justice system when he takes over the position of Brooklyn District Attorney in June. City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has already promised him a clean slate to appoint people from the community “with whom I can have a respectful relationship,” she said.