In response to press reports that a Grand Jury has failed to indict a police officer for the chokehold death of Eric Garner, a father of six accused of selling loose cigarettes illegally, the leadership of the New York Civil Liberties Union issued the following statement. It is attributable to NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman.
“The failure of the Staten Island Grand Jury to file an indictment in the killing of Eric Garner leaves New Yorkers with an inescapable question: How will the NYPD hold the officers involved accountable for his death? And what will Commissioner Bratton do to ensure that this is the last tragedy of its kind? Unless the Police Department aggressively deals with its culture of impunity and trains officers that they must simultaneously protect both safety and individual rights, officers will continue to believe that they can act without consequence.”
The NYCLU also called on lawmakers to swiftly pass the Right to Know Act, a pair of bills currently before the City Council which would require police officers to identify themselves formally to people they stop and, if there is no arrest or summons, provide a business card and require officers to obtain proof of consent before searching someone when there is no warrant or probable cause.