DOJ To Open Criminal Civil Rights Investigation Into Eric Garner’s Death

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(CBSNews)- The Justice Department will open a criminal civil rights investigation into the death of Eric Garner, a department official confirmed to CBS News.

The announcement follows the news that a grand jury in New York declined to return any charges against the New York City police officer who used a chokehold on Garner, who died after the confrontation.

President Obama addressed the grand jury decision at an event Wednesday.

“When anybody in America is not being treated equally under the law, that’s a problem, and it’s my job to solve it.”

Members of New York’s congressional delegation expressed shock and outrage Wednesday after the grand jury decision’s came out, particularly since the confrontation between Garner and officer Daniel Pantaleo was caught on camera.

In July, Pantaleo attempted to arrest Garner, a father of six, for allegedly selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. A cell phone video shows Pantaleo putting his arm around Garner’s neck — even though the use of chokeholds is banned in the New York Police Department — and bringing him to the ground after he refused to be handcuffed. Garner is heard in the video saying repeatedly, “I can’t breathe!”

The Justice Department official told CBS that the investigation into Garner’s death is the same sort of investigation opened into the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. It is also the same kind of investigation opened into the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, which remains “ongoing” nearly three years later.

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