US Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that the Department of Justice will launch an independent investigation to determine if there was a violation of civil rights in the case of Eric Garner, a black man who died at the hands of a policeman in New York.
Just a few hours after the grand jury announced Wednesday its decision not to charge the officer in the death, Holder made his statement about the federal investigation, saying that it would be independent, thorough, fair and expeditious.
Garner, 43, who was asthmatic, died July 17 due to suffocation after Daniel Pantaleo, an officer in civilian clothes, placed an arm against his neck to apply a chokehold, an incident that was captured on film by a passerby.
The grand jury’s decision set off protests in New York as well as in Washington DC, just a week after a wave of protests took place across the country against a similar decision by a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri.
Nov 24, officer Darren Wilson was let go without charges after shooting dead Michael Brown, an unarmed black youth, in August under circumstances that still remain unclear.
“Recent incidents across the country have tested the sense of trust that must exist between law enforcement and the communities they are charged to serve and protect,” Holder said.
Holder emphasised the people’s right to protest peacefully taking into account the frustration among several sections of the society, and asked them to refrain from violence as it would distract from such a serious topic.
The attorney general also announced that in the next few days his department would issue new directives to prevent racial discrimination by law enforcement agencies, especially after the case of Michael Brown.
Holder, the first African-American to head the Justice Department, played a key role in pacifying the protests that followed Brown’s death and has not hesitated to speak out against racial tension in the country.