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The killer cop who took Eric Garner's life walks free. How do we secure justice?

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On Tuesday, the Department of Justice declined to bring federal charges against New York Police Department Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who choked the life out of Eric Garner. Tomorrow marks the five year anniversary. This refusal of an indictment is unfortunately unsurprising. Killer cops are rarely sent to jail.

In his study on police crimes, criminologist Philip Stinson found that despite killing about 1,100 people annually, prosecutors charge on average seven cops a year with murder or manslaughter. A total of 90 officers (out of approximately 13,000 officers who killed someone) have been charged since 2005. This figure is astounding since prosecutors secure grand jury indictments at remarkable rates, 99% for federal grand juries, and most cases end in defendant pleas (97%).

Indictments are rare. Prosecutors don’t indict because they work closely with police, or they don’t think they’ll win. Police unions donate to prosecutor races and have even organized to oust prosecutors who charge cops. Juries also sympathize with police officers who do a “tough job” everyday, despite having low on-the-job death rates. More truck drivers, maintenance workers, and electricians are killed every year than cops. But many juries don’t care.

After two failed attempts, Cincinnati prosecutors declined to prosecute University of Cincinnati Police Department officer Ray Tensing for shooting Sam DuBose in the face - on camera - because both previous trials had jurors who stated that they refuse to convict an officer. Tensing settled a civil suit for back pay and legal fees with........

© The Guardian