Erica Garner, who became an outspoken activist against police abuse after a New York policeman killed her father with a chokehold, has died after being hospitalized following a heart attack. She was 27.
The news of her death was first reported by family members on her official Twitter account. She had been hospitalized in Brooklyn since Christmas Eve.
“When you report this you remember she was human: mother, daughter, sister, aunt. Her heart was bigger than the world. It really really was. She cared when most people wouldn’t have. She was good. She only pursued right, no matter what. No one gave her justice,” Garner’s family stated in a separate tweet.
For over three years, Garner and her family had been fighting for justice following her father’s death in July 2014. Eric Garner died after New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo placed him in a chokehold in Staten Island for simply selling loose cigarettes. He was 43.
The attack was captured on video, and a medical examiner later ruled the killing a homicide. In the video, Eric Garner was seen pleading with police officers, saying, “I can’t breathe” 11 times before he died. Nevertheless, a grand jury declined to press charges against the police officer in December 2014.
Later, an appellate court ruled that grand jury evidence related to Eric Garner’s death would not be made public. As Splinter’s Daniel Rivero reported in May 2015, “To this day, no one really knows why no one was charged in the death, which was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner—and captured on video.”
In July 2015, New York City settled with the Garner family by agreeing to pay $5.9 million in a wrongful death claim.
“This is not about people getting money,” Rev. Al Sharpton said at the time, according to The New York Times. “This is about justice. We’ve got to restructure our police departments and how we deal with policing nationwide.”
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Erica Garner continued her fight against police brutality targeting people of color and pressed on for accountability and civil rights protections. During the Democratic primaries, she backed Sen. Bernie Sanders, who she considered the only major candidate who took civil rights issues seriously.
“People are dying. This is real. This is not TV,” she stated in a campaign ad supporting Sanders. She added: “I’m never giving up. I’m never going to forget. And I don’t want the world to forget what happened to my dad.”
Last August, Erica Garner gave birth to a son whom she named after her father.