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Justice for Eric Garner and the Urgent Need for Police Accountability

WHEREAS, in July 2014, Eric Garner, a 43-year-old Black man was killed by New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers, including Daniel Pantaleo, who applied a chokehold to the neck of Eric Garner. Before dying, Mr. Garner was able to say 11 times that he could not breathe; and

WHEREAS, a Staten Island grand jury came back with no indictment against Officer Pantaleo, and the grand jury minutes remain sealed despite numerous attempts by the NAACP and other advocacy groups to unseal them; and

WHEREAS, since July of 2014, the United States Department of Justice has had the case under investigation, but despite the recommendation of federal civil rights prosecutors, Justice Department officials have not approved the filing of federal charges; and

WHEREAS, the NYPD is awaiting the results of the federal investigation to determine whether to discipline Officer Pantaleo; in the meantime he has been relieved of his gun and badge but remains on desk duty where he has earned at taxpayers' expense $105,061 in fiscal year 2015 and $119,996 (including $23,000 in overtime pay) in fiscal year 2016; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Garner's daughter, Erica, became a national figure in the fight for justice for her father and against police mistreatment of Black people in America, and it is quite possible that the huge amount of stress she endured in this struggle contributed to her death in December 2017, at the young age of 27; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Garner is one of the approximately 1,000 men, women, and children killed by police violence each year, and a disproportionate number of victims of police violence are Black; and

WHEREAS, California, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Hawaii lack the authority to revoke police officers' licenses to serve, a process known as "decertification;" other states with decertification authority have weak decertification laws that do not effectively remove problematic officers; and

WHEREAS, in states without an effective decertification authority, officers removed or disciplined by one law enforcement agency or department are not prevented from obtaining employment in other agencies or departments; and

WHEREAS, in order to end the epidemic levels of police violence against Black people, states must have tools for the removal of problem officers along with appropriate recruitment, training, transparency, accountability, and community oversight.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, ("NAACP") reaffirms its positions on police accountability, community oversight, justice for victims of police violence, and models for police reform, which are set forth in the following resolutions:


  • Legislative Accountability to Eliminate Wrongful Use of Deadly Force by Law Enforcement


  • Law Enforcement and the Use of Body Worn Cameras


  • Emergency Resolution NAACP Condemns the Use of the Excessive Force Tactics that Led to the Death of Eric Garner
  • Examination of Law Enforcement/Peace Officers Bill of Rights for Possible Inconsistencies with the US Constitution


  • Police Misconduct and Abuse in the Performance of Duty


  • Police Brutality Against African Americans and other Minorities
  • Ending Racial Profiling in the United States
  • Requiring Mandatory Investigations by the Department of Justice in Cases Where Individuals Die While in Police Custody


  • A call for Smart and Safe Policing strategies and an end to racially disparate stop and frisk policing by law enforcement
  • Video Surveillance of law Enforcement traffic detentions


  • Mandatory Reporting and Review of Taser by Officer
  • Establishing model standards, polices and training to prevent misconduct and excessive use of force
  • Investigate shooting death of Iman Luqman Ameen Abdullah

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP petition the Staten Island Supreme Court to direct Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon to correct the manifest injustice caused by the non-indictments of NYPD Officers in the death of Eric Garner and to convene a new grand jury, as is its authority pursuant to the New York Criminal Procedure Law, Section 190.75; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, based upon the recommendation of civil rights prosecutors within the U.S. Department of Justice's Washington, DC office, the NAACP calls upon U.S. Department of Justice to seek an indictment of the officers involved in violating Eric Garner's civil rights; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP urges the United States Department of Justice to reopen or continue its criminal and/or civil investigation into the victims who died or suffer serious bodily harm as the result of police action or non-action across the nation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP calls for the creation of model police certifications standards and processes; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP calls for the immediate termination of the police officers responsible for the death of Eric Garner, including, but not limited to Daniel Pantaleo; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP calls for all states to develop and implement an efficient and effective process to decertify law enforcement officers that violate the law or fail to meet public standards for law enforcement professionals; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the NAACP calls for 1) all states to report decertified officers to the National Decertification Index to ensure the effects of decertification across state lines; 2) require law enforcement agencies and agencies hiring security officials to search the National Decertification index and use the information in their hiring decisions; 3) urges the federal government to discontinue funding support via the Law Enforcement Assistance Act, etc., to State and local security agencies or entities that do not query this index and use the resulting information in their hiring decisions.