In an interview with Breitbart News on Thursday, University of Louisville associate professor of law and Harvard law and policy analyst Dr. Laura McNeal explained that a “multi-faceted” response is needed after a grand jury declined to indict New York Police Department officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner.
“First and foremost, police need to rebuild trust with communities, be more transparent,” Dr. McNeal said. “Second, we should implement a federal statute on racial profiling, with sanctions or punishment for violating the statute. And police training should be standardized nationwide, including training on use of excessive force.”
Dr. McNeal said that the grand jury could have found intent to harm in the officers’ handling of Garner, and subsequently, grounds for indictment, after Garner repeatedly told police while he was being arrested that he could not breathe.
“Once the suspect says 11 times, ‘I can’t breathe,’ that triggered the intent element,” Dr. McNeal explained. “That is a clear case of intent. I’m baffled by [the grand jury decision]. A lot of people are.”
Dr. McNeal, who has worked in the past to train youth on how to interact with police in a program called Strategies for Youth, said that the officer should have adjusted his behavior, and that an emphasis on better police training could have prevented Garner’s death.
“Garner was unarmed, outnumbered…They still could have subdued him without blocking his airways,” Dr. McNeal said.
McNeal was also critical of President Obama’s request of $75 million to place body cameras on police officers to increase accountability by capturing arrests on tape.
“How effective is that going to be when we continue to rely on federal prosecutors?” McNeal asked.
“I do have some issues with the grand jury process,” she added. “The relationship between prosecutor and police officer tends to be a little incestuous. They work with each other a lot.”
When asked about what can be done going forward to prevent tragedies like this from happening again, Dr. McNeal emphasized that better police training is key, and that a federal statute on racial profiling would establish guidelines for individuals to pursue legal action against law enforcement. Specifically, individuals could pursue claims on grounds of “patterns of conduct that violate American civil rights.”
“They want something symbolic,” Dr. McNeal concluded. “They want a commitment.”