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Justice Department To Continue Investigating Eric Garner's Death

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's pursue some unanswered questions about the death of Eric Garner.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Countless people have seen the video. The New York City man was taken into custody by police. He died after Officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a hold around his neck. Pantaleo will not be charged.

INSKEEP: All that is known. The questions that remain involve both facts and the law. For example, did Officer Pantaleo use a chokehold, which New York police banned long ago? Or was the hold slightly different? We'll pursue that in a moment.

GREENE: Also did Officer Pantaleo's actions warrant a prosecution under state law? A Staten Island grand jury answered no. But we may find out if the answer is different when the case is considered under federal law.

INSKEEP: Attorney General Eric Holder promised his investigators will ask that question. And our coverage starts with NPR's justice correspondent Carrie Johnson.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: The attorney general said his civil rights prosecutors will review all the evidence, including video footage of Eric Garner struggling to breathe as police pressed down on his neck.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER: Now we've all seen the video of Mr. Garner's arrest. His death, of course, was a tragedy. All lives must be valued - all lives.

JOHNSON: The attorney general pointed out the Justice Department is already investigating the shooting of an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Missouri, by a white policeman.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HOLDER: Mr. Garner's death is one of several recent incidents across our great country that have tested the sense of trust that must exist between law enforcement and the communities they are charged to serve and to protect.

JOHNSON: Holder pointed out his brother Billy is a retired Port Authority policeman. And he said the vast majority of law enforcement do their jobs with honor and respect. Still, the attorney general said, he wants to personally do more to heal a breakdown in trust between police and communities. He'll meet with clergy, local government leaders and police in Cleveland later today. That city's mourning the death of a 12-year-old African-American boy at the hands of police there last month. Carrie Johnson, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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