Two years have now elapsed since New York City Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo choked Eric Garner to death for the apparently egregious crime of selling loose cigarettes — but the only one facing any punishment for what many believe to be a cold-blooded murder is the man who filmed it.
“I can’t breathe,” Garner pleaded eleven times — caught on film by Ramsey Orta — though Pantaleo refused to release his grip on the man’s neck.
Garner’s plea for his life became the rallying call of Black Lives Matter and police brutality activists across the nation and around the world — though the inhumanity of having to beg for one’s life after committing a nonviolent, victimless crime remains sadly all-too-common.
But though news of violent and deadly acts committed by police top headlines with alarming frequency, the fact Pantaleo used his bare hands to strangle the life from Garner was a startling departure from shootings that typify brutal policing. So personal is choking a man to death, even ordinary Americans were suddenly forced to question what, exactly, happened to the romanticized image of friendly neighborhood police from mere decades ago.
Defying all reason, Pantaleo remains on the force — having faced no penalty for killing a nonviolent man who committed a crime under only the strictest legal definition of the term. And Orta, who filmed the gang of police protecting Pantaleo’s actions, preventing anyone from stepping in to allow Garner to breathe, has just accepted a plea deal for four years on unrelated charges.
Orta claims he’s been constantly harassed by the cops and repeatedly arrested since that day — almost certainly retaliation for exposing the brutal incident to the world.
Though a local investigation did not result in any indictments — another cynical typicality in the vein of ‘we investigated ourselves and …