Press Releases

Congressional Black Caucus and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Respond to DOJ Eric Garner Decision

Washington, DC, July 16, 2019

  As reported by the Washington Post, the Department of Justice has issued its decision to not bring federal charges against any of the police officers involved in the death of Eric Garner. In response, the Congressional Black Caucus Chair, Congresswoman Karen Bass and the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler released the following statement.

Eric Garner, whom police suspected of selling cigarettes illegally, was unarmed when he was placed in a chokehold by the officer. At one point in the video, Garner can be heard telling police, "I can't breathe."

“Today’s decision from the Department of Justice reaffirms that the Black community has a lot to lose under the Trump Administration. Our community has dealt with police brutality for decades. The decision to not move forward with federal charges against the police officers involved in Eric Garner’s death exacerbates the discriminatory and overly aggressive policing practices in America. This decision is wrong, insensitive, and further divides police departments from communities they are sworn to serve and protect.  The Black Caucus remains committed to bridging the gap between police departments and the communities they serve in order to strengthen racial justice and equality in our country,” said Congresswoman Karen Bass, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

“I am deeply disturbed that the Department of Justice found that it could not charge the officer who caused the death of Eric Garner. The videotape is clear. The officer in the case used an illegal chokehold on Garner that was banned by NYPD. This case should have had a trial and there is no doubt that it deserves an indictment. The justice system and the Department have failed Mr. Garner and his family. This case illustrates the difficulty in holding law enforcement officers accountable for misconduct and is one of many reasons why federal legislation must be passed to address these issues. The House Judiciary Committee will hold hearings this Congress to determine how to best protect the lives and rights of Americans while continuing to meet the needs of law enforcement. We must continue to work at the federal, state and local levels to strengthen police-community relations and to ensure that what happened to Eric Garner does not happen again,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee.