(CNSNews.com) - New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio promised Wednesday that there will be justice in the case of Eric Garner, who died from a fatal chokehold by New York City Police who were trying to arrest him for illegally selling cigarettes in 2014.
During Wednesday night’s CNN Democratic presidential debate, the mayor was asked why the officer accused of killing Garner is still on the streets.
“The other day of the Department of Justice not going after Officer Panteleo that-- Officer Panteleo used a choke hold that was prohibited by NYPD. He did that for seven seconds. Eleven different times Eric Garner said that he couldn't breathe. He knew what he was doing, that he was killing Eric Garner, and yet he has not been brought to justice. That police officer should be off the street,” former HUD Secretary Julian Castro said.
When asked why Garner was still on the streets, the mayor said, “Let me tell you. I know the Garner family. They've gone through extraordinary pain. They are waiting for justice, and they're going to get justice. There's finally going to be justice.
“I have confidence in that - in the next 30 days in New York, you know why? Because for the first time we are not waiting on the federal Justice Department which told the city of New York that we could not proceed because the justice department was pursuing their prosecution,” de Blasio said.
“And years went by and a lot of the pain accrued, and in the meantime, what I'm working on there will never be another tragedy. There will never be another Eric Garner, because we're changing fundamentally how we police, but there's one last thing I have to say about the Justice Department. The vice president for 2 1/2 of those years, Mr. Vice President, tell us what did you do to try and spur on the Justice Department to act in the Garner case?” the mayor asked.
Former Vice President Joe Biden responded by saying, “Number one, we made sure we reduced the federal prison population by 38,000 people, number one. Number two, we in fact insisted that we change the roles that police engage in. We provided for body cameras. We made sure that there were a lot of things that were changed in the process - 38,000 people in the federal system were released under the system.
“And so the fact is, that there's a lot we've done, but here's the deal. The fact is that we're talking about things that occurred a long, long time ago, and now all of a sudden, you know -- I find it fascinating, everybody’s talking about how terrible I am on these issues. Barack Obama knew exactly who I was. He had 10 lawyers do a background check on everything about me on civil rights and he chose me and he said it was the best decision he ever made. I’ll take his judgment,” Biden added.
When asked whether de Blasio’s answer about the Garner case was adequate, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said, “No. He should be fired. He should be fired now.”