Wednesday, December 3, 2014

No 'indictment' for a New York City police officer who killed a black man with a 'choke-hold'

The youtube video below shows New York City police officers killing a black man in Staten Island - one of the 5 boroughs (areas) of New York City. (I'm sorry, for some reason the video has been removed from youtube! 12/05/14)

Apparently the guy was selling individual cigarettes to people outside on the sidewalk. He was selling each cigarette for about 50 cents, to make a little extra money.  This is a very minor crime in New York City.

New York City has, however, a crazy approach to situations like this.  The police department believes that even the smallest crimes must be punished or crime will become worse and worse. So even though this guy was doing something quite minor, as you can see in the video, two under-cover cops decided to arrest him (take him to the police building and charge him with/accuse him of a crime). An under-cover cop is a police officer pretending to be a normal citizen (he is dressed noramlly and not in a uniform).

Eric Garner, the guy illegally selling the cigarettes, was upset that he was going to be arrested for something so small and he argued with the police.  When the police wanted to put handcuffs on him, he resisted (he wouldn't let the police put the handcuffs on his wrists). As you can see from the video, the police then act violently toward Garner and one cop places him in a 'choke-gold'. This means the cop put his forearm around the man's throat (you can see this in the video). By putting Garner in a choke-hold, the cop cut off Garner's supply of air and Garner died.

All of this happened in the summer of 2014.  Many people expected that the cop who killed Garner would be arrested himself and charged with murder. However, today a group of jurors (average people asked to investigate situations that might be crimes) decided not to indict the cop who killed Garner.  An indictment is when it is determined that there is enough evidence or proof to charge (officially accuse) a person with a crime.  If a person is indicted, he must go to trial.  The jury in this case said the cop had done nothing wrong and would not have to go to trial.

Here is an article about this situation:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/03/us-usa-new-york-chokehold-idUSKCN0JH2BI20141203

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

to be indicted - (pronounced: in DITE id) this is when there is an investigation by a small group of citizens to determine whether a person should go to trial in a court. If a decision not to indict (in DITE) a person is reached, this means the person is considered completely innocent

a chokehold - 



US Justice sets probe - the US Justice Department will probe (investigate) this case. So the jury said the cop was not guilty of murder, but the US government might decide that the cop violated Garner's human rights. If so, the US government can arrest the cop for breaking the law by not giving Garner his  rights as a human being in the USA.

a grand jury - this is the official name of the group of citizens who decide whether to put a person on trial or not.  A regular jury is a group of 12 people who can decide whether a person is guilty of innocent. the grand jury has a different function

to charge someone with a crime - to officially state that a person committed a crime so that the person now must stand trial in a courtroom

an unarmed black man - the guy didn't have any type of weapon

sparked outrage - caused people to become very upset and angry

protests - when groups of people go into the streets to show they are unhappy about something

to tackle - to force a person to the ground

resisting arrest - not allowing himself to be arrested

homicide - murder, an illegal killing

fueled debate - caused arguments or caused people to discuss

minorities - blacks and Latinos

racially charged killing - a killing that might have had something to do with 'race' or the person's skin color, a killing that caused many people to feel that racism had occurred

a spasm of violence - a quick but forceful reaction of violence

to be looted - when a business is looted people break in and steal things

excessive - too much

demonstrators - protesters

denial - not addressing something or not acknowledging something that should be acknowledged; to dent something is to say it didn't happen

apprehended - caught

doing something defiantly - doing something even though you might be punished for it

accountability - responsibility; if you are accountable for something, you are responsible for something; so the police are supposed to be accountable to the people and are supposed to treat the people with respect

initiated - begun

expeditiously - quickly

distraught - very depressed, very upset

a makeshift memorial - a little temporary set-up to show that people are sad about what happened

wide latitude - a lot of room; this means the police are often allowed to do whatever they have to in order to arrest a person

compressing - squeezing, forcing

obesity - being very overweight; this guy weighed 400 lbs - 181 kilograms -  and this is one of the reasons, apparently, for why he died

launched - created, started

to frisk someone - this is when a cop or security guard runs his/her hands over a person's clothing to see whether the person has any weapons hidden

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