The NYPD said Sunday morning there were no reported arrests made overnight of demonstrators protesting the lack of a grand jury indictment in the apparent chokehold death of Eric Garner, as NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said on television that the internal investigation into Garner's death has begun.
Speaking on the CBS talk show, "Face the Nation," Bratton said the department's internal affairs investigators began Friday interviewing officers who were involved when the Staten Island resident was handcuffed. If the department advocate, who is a prosecutor, finds grounds for violations of NYPD rules, a trial will be held, Bratton said. The trial judge will make a finding and report it to Bratton, who will make the final decision on the fate of Officer Daniel Pantaleo, Bratton said.
Garner, 43, died July 17 after a confrontation with Pantaleo and other police officers in the Tompkinsville section while being arrested on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. In the scuffle to handcuff him, Garner who was overweight and had asthma was pulled to the ground and restrained despite his protests that he couldn't breathe.
"I will make the final decision in the NYPD," said Bratton, adding that the whole process could take three or four months.
Asked how he felt watching the cellphone video of Garner's arrest, in which he says, "I can't breathe," 11 times, Bratton said: "I don't think that anyone that watches that video is not disturbed by what they saw. Policing involving use of force, it always looks awful. We have an expression, lawful but awful."
On New York City PBA President Patrick Lynch accusing Mayor Bill de Blasio of throwing police "under the bus," he said, "We have a strong difference of opinion on that comment."
Meanwhile on "Meet the Press," the Rev. Al Sharpton touted a national rally this coming Saturday in Washington D.C. for Garner and other unarmed black men killed by police. Sharpton and Esaw Garner, the wife of Eric Garner, appeared on the NBC Sunday show. He also said his National Action Network will push for congressional hearings and legislation.
"The congress needs to not only do hearings, we need to deal with the jurisdictional threshold of how do we make a federal case? How will she get her day in court?" Sharpton said, referring to Esaw Garner.
"It's going to be able to move the jurisdictional threshold, which Congress can do. Congress needs to put money into Justice Department investigations in these cases. We gotta bring protests to where it goes, the legislation," Sharpton said. "Otherwise, we'll be back here again."
Despite heavy rain, Saturday was the fourth day of protests in New York City since a Staten Island grand jury announced its decision not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the apparent chokehold death of Garner. About 100 demonstrators participated in a die-in in Grand Central Terminal and later at the Toys R Us store in Times Square.
Esaw Garner, in her "Meet the Press" interview, said it would "only be right" that Pantaleo faces federal charges. "I feel that he was murdered unjustly," she said of her husband.
Sharpton, asked to react to comments made by Police Benevolent Assocation President Patrick Lynch that Garner should not have resisted arrest, said: "To blame the victim, the insensitivity of that is striking."
Garner's death occurred about three weeks before the shooting death of Michael Brown, 18, an unarmed black man, by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, which set off days of violent protests and looting there. Last month a Missouri grand jury declined to charge Wilson, sparking looting and arson.
De Blasio on "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos said he'd continue to push policies that would improve the treatment of blacks by police officers.
"There's that fear that there could be that one moment of misunderstanding with a young man of color and that young man will never come back," he said.
He reiterated his stance, born of his own talks with his biracial son Dante, about the fear of the police by parents of young men of color.
"What parents have done for decades, who have children of color, especially young men of color, is train them to be very careful when they have an encounter with a police officer," he said. "It's different for a white child. That's just the reality in this country."
With David Schwartz