Holder: We Must ‘Heal the Breakdown in Trust’

Holder: We Must ‘Heal the Breakdown in Trust’

Wednesday, in reacting to the news that a grand jury declined to indict the New York City Police Officer involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, Attorney General Eric Holder announced a federal investigation.

Transcript as follows:

Good evening. I want to provide an update regarding the case, involving Eric Garner. A Staten Island resident who died tragically in July of this year. Since Mr. Garner’s death, the United States Attorney office for the Eastern district of New York, the civil rights division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been monitoring the local case closely while allowing the local investigation led by the district attorney’s office in Staten Island to proceed first. Earlier today the grand jury declined to return an indictment in this case. Now that the local investigation has concluded.”

I’m here to announce that the justice department will proceed. With a federal civil rights investigation into Mr. Garner’s death. This afternoon, I spoke with the widow of Eric Garner to inform her and her family of our decision to investigate potential federal civil rights violations. I’ve also been in touch with President Obama as well as mayor de blasio regarding our decision. Prosecutors will conduct an independent, thorough, fair and expeditious investigation. In addition to performing our own investigative work, the department will conduct a complete review of the material gathered during the local investigation. 

Now we’ve all seen the video of mr. Garner”s. His death of course was a tragedy. All lives must be valued. All lives. Mr. Garner’s death is one of recent interviews craw the country about the use of trust with the communities they are charge to serve and to protect. This is not a New York issue. Nor a Ferguson issue alone. Those who have protected peacefully with the decision in figure have made that very clear. As a brother of a retired police officer, I know in a very personal way about the bravery of the men and women in uniform who put their lives at risk every day to protect public safety. The vast majority of our law enforcement officers perform their duties honorably and are committed to respecting their fellow citizens civil rights as they carry out their very challenging work. It is for their sake as well that we must seek to heal the breakdown in trust that we have seen. 

Early this week, I traveled to Atlantic to begin a series of interactions to begin this process. And officials around the country, at every level of the united states department of justice, will continue this violent ongoing work. As the justice department’s independent investigations into the deaths of michael brown and eric garner proceed, I will continue these conversations as we seek to restore trust, to rebuild understanding, and to foster cooperation between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Now, I know that substantial number of people in New York and across the country will be disappointed and will be frustrated by the outcome of the state grand jury proceedings today. I know many will plan to voice their disappointment publicly through protests. This is the right. This is the right of all Americans. But as I have said before throughout our history, the most successful movements have been nose adhere to the principles of nonviolence. I urge all those inclined to demonstrate tonight and in the days ahead to remain peaceful in their demonstrations and not to engage in activity that’s deflect attention from the very serious matters that our nation.

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN