“[The Eric Garner family] are 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, and years went by, and a lot of pain accrued.”
— New York Mayor Bill de Blasio
De Blasio has been criticized for inaction on the Eric Garner case, and this defense he gave at the debate was false.
New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo was accused of killing Garner, an African American man, in 2014, after encountering him selling loose cigarettes. Pantaleo used a chokehold prohibited by the police department.
Five years later, Pantaleo remains a New York police officer. The state of New York did not charge him. The Department of Justice investigated the case and declined to bring charges.
De Blasio said he held off on taking action on the case because the Justice Department “told the city of New York that we could not proceed.” That’s false. The Justice Department requested that the city hold off but did not block de Blasio from taking action, as New York City journalists were quick to point out.