A grand jury voted on Wednesday not to bring criminal charges against a white New York City police officer involved in a fatal encounter with a black man in Staten Island, according to media reports.
Eric Garner, 43, died after being placed in a chokehold by the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, an encounter that was partly captured by a bystander's cell phone camera. The confrontation took place in mid-July outside a Staten Island beauty supply store where Garner had allegedly been selling loose cigarettes.
The incident — a white police officer involved in the death of an unarmed black man — coincided closely with the case of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Two weeks ago, a grand jury in Ferguson voted not to pursue criminal charges against that officer, Darren Wilson.
In Ferguson, rioters took to the street the night after the grand jury announcement. While authorities in New York City said they were prepared for demonstrations, Police Commissioner William Bratton said he didn't expect violence.
“We’ve been preparing in multiple ways for months now, conducting a series of community meetings throughout the city,” he told "CBS This Morning" on Wednesday. “And we’ve been tactically preparing in terms of bringing in resources to deal with any potential eventuality.”
The city also chose this morning to launch a new program outfitting police with body cameras. Bratton tweeted about cops attending a body camera seminar minutes before the grand jury announcement.
Joanne Jaffe, the New York City Police Department's chief of community affairs, acknowledged the non-indictment and assured the public that the police will work on regaining the public's trust.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted his condolences to Eric Garner's family and reiterated that the city needs to do better.
In September, de Blasio told Fusion's Jorge Ramos that something was wrong with the NYPD.
The intense media attention around Ferguson carried over into the case in New York and reaction among Twitter users was swift and strongly worded, despite the department's and the mayor's assertion that they will try to do better.
Some have speculated that the NYPD knew of the impending indictment and were preparing for any potential protests.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, who in June authored "The Case for Reparations," argued that the issue extends beyond the NYPD.
Others, like entrepreneur and technologist Anil Dash, pointed out that body cameras, despite President Obama's recent announcement that he had earmarked $263 million for them, aren't nearly enough.
The same sentiment was expressed by Marc Lamont Hill, distinguished academic who teaches at the historically black college Morehouse.
Some have suggested that the demographics of the grand jury—14 white people and nine non-whites—were at play.
Cop Watch, one of the many organizations that advocate for the videotaping of police officers, have announced a protest rally to take place in New York's Foley Square, site of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Fidel Martinez is an editor at Fusion.net. He's also a Texas native and a lifelong El Tri fan.
Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.