Memorial service held for third anniversary of Eric Garner's death
Monday marked three years since the death of a Staten Island man at the hands of police. His relatives spent the day reflecting on Eric Garner's life, and hoping that the police officer responsible for killing him will be held accountable. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
A handful of community affairs police officers stood guard outside Tompkinsville Park as a crowd protested peacefully inside.
Those gathered turned out to mark the life of Eric Garner, who died three years ago at the hands of police.
"Remembering Eric Garner's life and the legacy that he left behind, which is love and joy and peace. And that's what we want to remember today," said Jewel Miller, the mother of Garner's daughter.
The 43-year-old was standing outside a beauty supply store when police tried to arrest him for illegally selling loose cigarettes.
In an altercation that was captured on cellphone video that went viral, police officer Daniel Pantaleo placed Garner in a chokehold, a move barred by the NYPD.
The medical examiner ruled his death a homicide, but a grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo.
The Justice Department is still mulling whether to press civil rights charges, even as Pantaleo has kept his job, under modified duty, at the NYPD.
"I don't have no faith in the justice system at all," Miller said. "Like literally. I don't have no faith in the justice system at all."
Mayor Bill de Blasio didn't have any events to mark the third anniversary of Garner's death. But when asked, he did say he believes there's been significant progress in police and community relations.
"Reforms are taking hold. They're deepening," de Blasio said. "The huge reduction in the use of stop-and-frisk is one. Retraining of all of our officers in de-escalation tactics is another."
But those NY1 spoke with at Tompkinsville Park say that's not enough.
"None of this moves us," said activist Ty Black. "We're unmoved unless you're talking about true justice, which is a murderer being penalized even if he wears a badge, being penalized with jail time, heavy jail time."
Garner's last words, "I can't breathe," became a battle cry for a nationwide movement against police brutality. Now, those words are written as a reminder of his death and a continued push for justice in his case.