Rep. Keith Ellison, Minnesota Democrat, said there should have been “some level of indictment” in the choking death of Eric Garner and that politicians would be compelled to act and respond if people continue speaking out.
“The fact is people have to demand [a] sense of justice: people in the streets are going to make the system more responsive,” he said Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “Maybe not in this case, but there’s no way you can continue to deny this. Everyone knows that there should have been some level of indictment in the Eric Garner case.”
“I mean, even negligent homicide, reckless endangerment: something - how can there be no issue here at all? It’s absurd,” he said.
A grand jury decided Wednesday not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo after he was captured on video earlier this year choking the 43-year-old Garner, who is black, and was stopped on Staten Island on suspicion of illegally selling cigarettes.
The decision set off protests in New York and elsewhere, and comes soon after the announcement out of Ferguson, Mo. that police officer Darren Wilson, who is white, would not face criminal charges in the shooting death over the summer of Michael Brown, a black 18-year-old who was unarmed.
“But I have confidence that responsive government is going to listen to the cries of the people who have a legitimate point of view that they’re making, and I know that there’s even police who are sitting around thinking ‘wow, how’d that guy get away with that, again?’” Mr. Ellison said.
Mr. Ellison said that the officer got hit with a “$30,000 judgment before he used an illegal chokehold, and he’s walking from this, as if nothing happened?”
He was apparently referring to a reported $30,000 settlement arising from a separate civil rights complaint against the officer.
“Politicians see the light they feel the heat,” Mr. Ellison said.