TIME justice

NYPD Chief: A Black Man in NYC ‘Doesn’t Have Anything to Fear From Us’

Mayor De Blasio And Police Chief Bratton Discuss Police Training
New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Bill Bratton attends a press conference on Dec. 4, 2014 in the College Point neighborhood of the Queens borough of in New York. Andrew Burton—Getty Images

NYPD internal probe into chokehold-related death will take three to four months

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton addressed on Sunday the nationwide protests sparked by a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white cop in the chokehold-related death of an unarmed black man, Eric Garner.

“Actually, [a black man in New York City] doesn’t have anything to fear from us,” Bratton said in response to a question on CBS’s Face the Nation. “But [protesters] do feel that. And it’s a result of, unfortunately, the stop, question and frisk controversy that overshadows so much of the success in reducing crime in the city for so many years.”

Bratton said the NYPD’s administrative investigation is underway, and it will determine if there were any violations of policies and procedures. The NYPD’s internal probe into Garner’s death will take as many as three to four months to complete, which means it’ll likely conclude before the Justice Department’s civil rights investigation.

“Part of the [NYPD investigation] will be to determine what everybody has seen on the video — is that, in fact, within the framework of what we teach our officers in terms of, ‘How do you take down the person you’re attempting to arrest?'” Bratton explained. “Chokehold is not illegal. It’s not against [New York] law. It’s against department policy and protocol.”

The New York City medical examiner’s office ruled weeks after the incident that Garner’s death was a homicide resulting from the “compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.”

TIME justice

Chokehold-Death Protest Gets Violent in California

A protester flees as police officers try to disperse a crowd comprised largely of student demonstrators during a protest against police violence in the U.S., in Berkeley
A protester flees as police officers try to disperse a crowd comprised largely of student demonstrators during a protest against police violence in in Berkeley, Calif. Dec. 7, 2014. Noah Berger—Reuters

Across the nation, overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations in solidarity with Eric Garner continued

(NEW YORK) — Mostly peaceful protests of a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man continued around the country, but authorities said a march in California turned violent when a splinter group smashed windows and threw objects at police.

A Berkeley police officer received hospital treatment for a dislocated shoulder after being hit with a sandbag, while another sustained minor injuries, police spokeswoman Jenn Coats said.

She said several businesses were looted and damaged when a splinter group broke off from the peaceful demonstration Saturday night, and officers attempting to get the crowd to disperse used smoke and tear gas. Protesters threw rocks, bricks, bottles, pipes and other objects at officers, and some squad cars were damaged.

At least six people had been arrested by the time the unrest ended early Sunday morning, Coats said.

Thousands of demonstrators have protested peacefully in New York and elsewhere since the announcement Wednesday that a grand jury declined to indict a white officer in the death of Eric Garner, a black man who gasped “I can’t breathe!” while being placed in a chokehold as he was being arrested for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. The decision closely followed a Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury’s choice not to indict a white officer in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.

The scope of the demonstrations and the lack of violence were moving to Garner’s mother and widow, they said Saturday.

“It is just so awesome to see how the crowds are out there,” said Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, who added that she ended up stuck in her car after protests shut down traffic.

“I was just so proud of that crowd,” Carr said. “It just warmed my heart.”

Garner’s widow, Esaw Garner, said she saw demonstrators from her apartment window and told her son, “Look at all the love that your father’s getting.”

Officers have said the outcry over the grand jury decision has left them feeling betrayed and demonized by everyone from the president and the mayor to throngs of protesters who scream at them on the street.

“Police officers feel like they are being thrown under the bus,” said Patrick Lynch, president of the police union.

Garner’s family members joined the Rev. Al Sharpton later Saturday as Sharpton laid a wreath at the site on Staten Island where Garner died July 17 in a confrontation that started when police tried to arrest him.

An amateur video seen by millions showed Garner gasping, “I can’t breathe” during the fatal encounter.

“All we’re concerned about is justice from the police,” said Garner’s stepfather, Benjamin Carr, who wore a T-shirt with the words, “Enough is enough.”

Protests continued in New York City for a fourth day with several dozen people lying down on the floor of Grand Central Terminal and marching into stores in Times Square. There were no reports of arrests.

Protests have also been held in Philadelphia, Chicago, Miami, Las Vegas and a number of other cities.

In Seattle, several hundred people marched downtown to police headquarters Saturday. Authorities said a group then split off from the main protest and tried to get onto a roadway. Police say some protesters threw rocks at officers who blocked them from entering it. Seven were arrested.

Sharpton announced plans this week for a march in Washington, D.C., next Saturday to protest the killings of Garner, Brown and others and to press for change at the federal level.

 

TIME justice

Prominent Ferguson Protester Charged With Assault

Obama Holds Meeting On Building Trust In Communities After Ferguson Unrest
Rasheen Aldridge, second left, listens to President Barack Obama at the conclusion of a meeting with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Philadelphia Police Department Commissioner Charles Ramsey and other elected officials, community and faith leaders and law enforcement officials on Dec. 1, 2014 in Washington D.C. Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

The youngest member of the Ferguson Commission has been charged with assault for allegedly pushing a city marshal during a demonstration

A young Ferguson protester who has been tapped to help study the issues afflicting the city was charged with assault on Thursday over an incident outside St. Louis’s city hall last week.

Rasheen Aldridge is accused of pushing a city marshal during a demonstration in which protesters squared off against law enforcement as they tried to enter the building, the St. Louis Dispatch reports. Aldridge has said that he didn’t see the marshal get pushed by any of the protesters.

Aldridge, 20, faces a misdemeanor charge for the incident, which was caught on video. He’s the youngest member of the Ferguson Commission, a group of community members assembled by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to study the social issues in the city that have contributed to the protests. The members of the commission, including Aldridge, visited Washington Monday to meet President Obama.

[St. Louis Dispatch]

TIME Parenting

Pregnant Woman Says She Was Fired for Taking Too Many Bathroom Breaks

Portrait of woman wearing striped dress
Getty Images

A supervisor accused her of “stealing” from the company

A woman in Portland, Ore., claims she was fired from her job in 2013 for taking too many bathroom breaks while pregnant with her second child.

People reports that Dawn Steckmann was told by her supervisor at Maxim Integrated Products that “not clocking out to use the restroom is stealing from the company” and she could have been “watching a movie” during bathroom breaks.

Steckmann, who worked for Maxim for ten years, claims she had been told during her previous pregnancy not to bother with clocking out when using the restroom.

Steckmann is reportedly seeking $400,000 in damages in a gender and discrimination lawsuit.

Read more at People.

TIME Crime

Protesters Rally for Second Night Against Decision in Eric Garner Case

Thousands took the streets and chanted Garner's last words: "I can't breathe"

Thousands of protesters gathered in major U.S. cities for a second night Thursday to rally against recent grand jury decisions against indicting white police officers in the deaths of black men, blocking major highways in New York City and Chicago, and staging “die-ins” in public areas.

The demonstrations came the same day New York’s mayor announced a citywide police retraining program, after a grand jury decided Wednesday not to indict a white NYPD officer in the death of Eric Garner.

In New York City, 200 people were arrested as protestors streamed onto the Brooklyn Bridge and shut down parts of the West Side Highway. Chicago demonstrators halted traffic on the Dan Ryan Expressway, while in Washington D.C. protestors attempted to upstage the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony near the White House with a “die-in” – lying in the street as if they had been shot.

Garner died in July after officer Daniel Pantaleo subdued him with a chokehold, an aggressive move that is banned by the New York Police Department. Pantaleo has reportedly denied using an illegal maneuver.

Wednesday’s grand jury announcement, which came just over a week after a similar outcome in the Ferguson, Mo., case involving teenager Michael Brown, sparked an immediate outcry and led a number of activists and elected officials to demand a federal investigation.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced Wednesday that the Justice Department had opened a civil rights inquiry into the incident, which was caught on video and later went viral.

MORE: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Announces Police Retraining Program

As footage of the rallies filled news segments Thursday evening, with many protesters chanting Garner’s final words “I can’t breathe,” his mother Gwen Carr opened up about her reaction to the grand jury’s decision not to indict Pantaleo.

“I couldn’t believe that they came back and didn’t come back with probable cause to bring this case to trial. I couldn’t even answer a phone call,” she told CNN. “I just wonder… what video was they watching? Because obviously it wasn’t the one the whole world was watching.”

Carr said she does not accept Pantaleo’s apology. “He was choking him and my son was begging for his life. That was the time for the apology. He should have got up off of him and let him breathe… I would have still had my son,” she added. “He has no regard for human life if this is the way he treats suspects.”

She hopes that Pantaleo will still face charges in federal court.

Read next: Eric Garner and Why Cameras Are Not Magic Wands

TIME Drugs

This Lifesaving Heroin Overdose Drug Just Got More Expensive

Why Naloxone prices are spiking 50% or more

The heroin overdose “miracle drug” is getting more expensive again.

Police departments are seeing a spike in the cost of Naloxone, the New York Times reports, with prices jumping by 50% or more. In Georgia, police saw kits with the drug go from $22 to $40.

Naloxone has always been subject to dramatic fluctuations in price and availability, restricting access for cash-strapped community organizations who distribute the drug across the U.S. The reasons for the volatility have always been complex and frustratingly opaque. But it may be from lack of competition: Only two companies, Amphastar, which makes a nasal spray, and Hospira, which makes an injectable, manufacture the drug.

MORE: This drug can stop an overdose so why is it so hard to get?

But demand for the drug is also going up: The latest price hike coincides with the proliferation of its distribution through police forces and community health programs. New policies across the country have put the Naloxone nasal spray into the hands of police officers to administer it to people overdosing. Recently passed laws in states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina also made it possible for doctors to prescribe the drug to friends and family of those addicted to heroin and prescription painkillers. Speaking to the Times, the president of Amphastar cited rising annual manufacturing costs for the increase.

Drug overdose has steadily risen to become the leading cause of injury death in the U.S., eclipsing automobile accidents, according to government data. Getting Naloxone into the hands of more first responders has been a priority for the Obama Administration in addressing what Attorney General Eric Holder has called “an urgent public health crisis.”

MORE: Heroin’s resurgence

TIME Crime

Justice Department to Investigate Eric Garner’s Death

Garner died following a police altercation on Staten Island in July

The U.S. Department of Justice will launch a civil-rights investigation into a New York man’s police-involved death by apparent chokehold after a grand jury declined to indict the officer, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Wednesday evening.

Holder made televised remarks from a lectern in Washington, D.C., as protestors began to gather and march at several locations around New York City in response to the grand jury’s decision in the case of Eric Garner. Federal prosecutors would conduct a “independent, thorough, fair and expeditious investigation” into Garner’s death, Holder said, after acknowledging he informed Garner’s widow that the Justice Department would launch the inquiry. “His death was a great tragedy,” he added. “All lives must be valued, all lives.”

MORE: Behind the Video of Eric Garner’s Deadly Confrontation With New York Police

A city medical examiner had previously ruled Garner’s death a homicide caused by “compression of the neck (chokehold)” and chest compressions he incurred while being subdued by police on July 17. Officers on Staten Island accused Garner of selling untaxed cigarettes and had attempted to arrest him, which he protested. Footage of the altercation, shot by a friend, shows a group of policemen forcing Garner to the ground as one of them, officer Daniel Panteleo, appears to put Garner in a chokehold, which is banned by the city’s police department.

Holder appealed for calm Wednesday as protestors gathered in New York and Washington in response to the announcement. The news came about a week after a grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., decided not to indict white officer Darren Wilson in the death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. The Justice Department is also investigating that case.

The Attorney General also began a series of conversations in communities across the country between police officers and minorities to improve relations between the two groups. Holder said such conversations would proceed “as we seek to form trust and foster understanding.”

TIME Crime

Officer in Tamir Rice Shooting Death Said to Have Handgun Performance Issues

According to a 2012 letter from a previous police department

The police officer in Cleveland who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in November had a poor history of handling guns, according to a new report.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that a 2012 letter from Deputy Chief Jim Polak, of the Independence Police Department where officer Tim Loehmann previously worked, labeled his performance as “dismal” and claimed he was “distracted” and “weepy” during handgun training. “I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct the deficiencies,” Polak added in the letter included in the officer’s personnel file, which suggested the department and officer separate.

Loehmann shot and killed Rice on Nov. 22 less than two seconds after he and another officer arrived at a park, where police had been alerted of someone thought to have a gun. Rice was found to be in possession of a fake gun.

Read more at the Cleveland Plain Dealer

TIME justice

Lawmakers Call for Federal Investigation Into Chokehold Death

Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand are calling for more inquiry into the death of Eric Garner

Lawmakers called for a Department of Justice investigation into the July death of Eric Garner, following a grand jury’s decision Wednesday not to indict the New York police officer who put the Staten Island father of six into a chokehold that killed him.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer said on Twitter that the DOJ “must launch a federal investigation into Eric Garner’s death as soon as possible.” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, also representing New York, called Garner’s death a “tragedy that demands accountability.”

“Nobody unarmed should die on a New York City street corner for suspected low-level offenses,” Gillibrand’s statement reads. “I’m shocked by this grand jury decision, and will be calling on the Department of Justice to investigate.”

Garner’s family and the Rev. Al Sharpton met in August with Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch—who was tapped in November as President Obama’s top pick to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General—to ask that the case be formally investigated by the Federal government.

President Obama quickly commented on the situation before a planned address at the White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington.

“As I said when I met with folks from Ferguson, this is an issue that we’ve been dealing with for too long and it’s time for us to make more progress than we’ve made,” Obama said. “This is American problem, not just a black problem.”

TIME Crime

No Charges for Officer Who Put Eric Garner in Deadly Chokehold

Grand jury's decision in Eric Garner case sparks outrage after similar outcome in Ferguson

The announcement Wednesday that a grand jury declined to indict a New York police officer in the chokehold-related death of a Staten Island man prompted protests around the city and led a number of officials to again acknowledge Americans’ frustrations over community-police relations.

The grand jury decided there was not enough evidence to file charges against officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner, following an altercation with a group of officers on July 17 that was videotaped by one of the victim’s friends. Officers suspected Garner of selling untaxed cigarettes and attempted to detain him, which Garner protested.

The footage depicts several officers forcing Garner, 43, to the ground while Pantaleo puts him in what appears to be a chokehold, an aggressive move that is banned by the city’s police department. In the video, which went viral, Garner can be heard repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe.” That phrase has been frequently invoked at protests around the country. A city medical examiner later ruled Garner’s death a homicide caused by “compression of the neck.” Although several officers were involved in Garner’s arrest, Panteleo was the only one who faced a potential indictment in the fatal encounter.

President Barack Obama later weighed in from Washington, among several cities where demonstrations would pop up on split-screen news segments next to analysts going over the fallout. “When anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law, that is a problem and it’s my job as President to help solve it,” he said.

The grand jury’s decision came just over a week after the announcement that Darren Wilson, a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., would not be indicted in the August shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. That news ignited a night of looting, arson and riots in the St. Louis suburb, and touched off demonstrations from New York to Los Angeles.

“It’s a very painful day for many New Yorkers” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in an afternoon news conference. “No family should have to go through what the Garner family went through.”

MORE: Justice Department to Investigate Eric Garner’s Death

A small but fierce crowd gathered at Union Square soon after the announcement was made public. Some demonstrators led chants of “Indict! Convict!” and “The whole damn system is going to hell!” Others had tears streaming down their faces and held up their smartphones to capture the protest. Many said they were not shocked to see jurors decline to indict the officer.

“No, when you’re black, you can’t be surprised,” said Omar Holmon, 29, a writer and performer. “The worst part is feeling numb to it.”

The march snowballed in size as it snaked north to Rockefeller Center, where the annual Christmas tree lighting was due to take place, causing the protestors to mix in with tourists. Chants of “Am I next?” were punctuated with calls of “Don’t ruin my Christmas!” and frantic gesturing of out-of-towners lost in the crowd.

“I’m tired of seeing people who look like me get killed,” Holmon added, holding back tears. “I want justice.”

Just as they did after Fergson, a number of elected officials spoke out Wednesday in the wake of the announcement.

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer tweeted that the Justice Department needed to launch a federal investigation into Garner’s death “as soon as possible.” And Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand called the fatal incident “a tragedy that demands accountability.”

MORE: Behind the Video of Eric Garner’s Deadly Confrontation With New York Police

Local, state and federal officials have received rampant condemnation over the police-involved deaths this year of unarmed black men like Brown and Garner, as well as the Cleveland police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Obama recently announced the launch of a national task force that would aim to improve trust between police departments and communities of color. In addition, he said a three-year, $263 million package would expand the use of body cameras among police officers and increase their training for surplus military equipment.

The nation’s top cop also held a brief news conference Wednesday evening, saying the Justice Department would launch a civil-rights inquiry into Garner’s death. Federal prosecutors would conduct an “independent, thorough, fair and expeditious investigation,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. “His death was a great tragedy,” he added. “All lives must be valued, all lives.”

As the night went on, protestors in New York fanned out into the streets and blocked traffic as officers kept pace. At one point, a group of protestors took over a section of the West Side Highway, resulting in a handful being detained. Police said there were at least 30 arrests around Manhattan as of 10:15 p.m., local time.

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