The Justice Department is not bringing any federal charges against a New York Police Department officer who was accused of fatally choking Eric Garner.

Federal authorities had a deadline of Wednesday, which marked five years since Garner’s death, to decide where or not to press charges against NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo.

Pantaleo appeared in a cell phone video and was seen having Garner in a chokehold shortly before he died. He denied that he used a chokehold.

Garner’s last words were, “I can’t breathe,” which became a rallying cry in the Black Lives Matter movement.

The city medical examiner’s office ruled the death as a homicide days after Garner’s death, and the medical examiner testified that Pantaleo’s alleged chokehold caused an asthma attack and was “part of the lethal cascade of events.”

U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue said there was insufficient evidence to prove that Panatelo acted “willfully” in violated of the federal criminal civil rights act.


“There is nothing in the video to suggest that Officer Pantaleo intended or attempted to place Mr. Garner in a chokehold,” Donoghue said.

Attorney General William Barr made the decision not to bring charges against Pantaleo, siding with a Justice Department team from New York over the Civil Rights Division in Washington, due to concerns that prosecutors could not successfully prove the officer acted willfully, a senior Justice Department official said.

“Five years ago, my son said ‘I can’t breathe’ 11 times, and today we can’t breathe, because they let us down,” said Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr.

The decision against Pantaleo means that he will not face any criminal charges related to Garner’s death, but he still faces departmental charges.