The recent grand jury decision not to indict the officer that many have said are responsible for the death of a Staten Island man has shaken New York City residents and citizens all across the United States. However, the matter remains far from resolved.
Attorney General Eric Holder and the United States attorney for New York's Eastern District announced this week that the Justice Department plans to proceed with its own investigation that will determine whether the man's federally-protected civil rights were violated by the officer's and others' actions. It is common for the Justice Department to allow local jurisdictions to complete their own investigations before moving in.
However, the survivors of the deceased man have already taken their own legal action seeking justice for their loved one's death. Through their attorney, they filed a notice of claim against the City of New York and its police department as well as various officers who were involved in the incident.
The family is pursuing damages of $75 million. A family attorney also announced that attorneys are preparing to file another civil rights action in federal court in the near future against the officers who were at the scene.Corporate counsel for the City of New York and its comptroller's officers are reviewing the family's claims.
Police disciplinary procedures that could include dismissal from the force may be levied against the officer and others involved in the illegal chokehold death of the Staten Island man who was being arrested for selling individual cigarettes when he died on the street as officers looked on.
The officer who applied the illegal hold has been reassigned to desk duty and relieved of his badge and gun pending the outcome of proceedings. His fate may remain undetermined while the Justice Department's investigation plays out.
An arrest or conviction is not necessary for a civil suit to successfully be resolved through a settlement of judgment in the plaintiffs' favor. A New York City personal injury attorney can sometimes achieve a measure of justice when the criminal courts fail.
Source: The New York Times, "What comes next in the Eric Garner Case" Dec. 04, 2014