EXCLUSIVE: A MOTHER’S MISSION

September 20, 2019 at 5:00 am

Eric Garner’s mother Gwen Carr is demanding justice even after the recent firing of the former NYPD officer who administered the fatal chokehold that killed her son.

Aired on September 19, 2019. 

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>>> I CAN'T BREATHE, THE LAST
WORDS OF ERIC GARNER AS HE DIED
WHILE IN A POLICE CHOKE HOLD.
AFTER FIVE YEARS OF INTERNAL
INVESTIGATIONS AND NATIONAL
PROTESTS, NEW YORK CITY'S POLICE
COMMISSIONER FIRED DANIEL
PANTALEO, THE NYPD OFFICER SEEN
DETAINING GARNER, THE ACTIONS
THAT LED TO HIS DEATH.
THE FIRING IS THE LATEST CHAPTER
IN A CONTENTIOUS AND EMOTIONAL
CASE THAT HAS DRAGGED ON FOR
YEARS, AND PROMPTED CALLS FOR
REFORM THROUGHOUT NEW YORK'S
ENTIRE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM.
BUT FOR THE GARNER FAMILY,
GETTING DANIEL PANTALEO STRIPPED
OF HIS BADGE DOES NOT MARK THE
END OF A QUEST FOR JUSTICE FOR
ERIC GARNER BUT RATHER A
CONTINUATION.
GARNER'S MOTHER, GWEN CARR HAS
BEEN FIGHTING FOR JUST THAT.
WE WELCOME YOU BACK TO
"METROFOCUS" AND VISITING WITH
US AGAIN.
.
>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME,
JACK.
>> MY FIRST QUESTION TO YOU IS
WHAT WAS YOUR IMMEDIATE
EMOTIONAL REACTION WHEN YOU
HEARD THE POLICE COMMISSIONER
SAY THAT INDEED HE WAS GOING TO
FOLLOW THE RECOMMENDATION AND
FIRE DANIEL PANTALEO.
>> WELL, ACTUALLY WHEN I START
LISTENING TO, YOU KNOW, HE WAS
EXPLAINING WHAT HE WAS GOING TO
DO, I WASN'T SURE HOW IT WAS
GOING TO GO BECAUSE AT FIRST IT
WAS IN MY MIND, OH, HE'S NOT
GOING TO FIRE THIS OFFICER.
THEN AS HE CONTINUED TO TALK,
WELL, NEIGHMAYBE HE WILL.
THEN AT THE VERY END WHEN HE
SAID THAT HE WOULD FIRE THE
OFFICER FOR HIS WRONG DOING, I
JUST WAS OVERWHELMED, GOT VERY
EMOTIONAL, AND I JUST BROKE DOWN
INTO TEARS.
I WAS -- IT WAS A STEP THAT I
WAS HOPING THAT WOULD HAPPEN BUT
WASN'T SO SURE THAT IT WOULD,
AND EVEN WITH THE FIRING OF
PANTALEO, IT WAS NOT JUSTICE FOR
ME, BUT IT WAS A STEP IN THE
RIGHT DIRECTION.
>> WHEN YOU SAY I UNDERSTAND A
STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, BUT
WHY DO YOU SAY IT WASN'T JUSTICE
FOR YOU?
>> WELL, ACTUALLY, FOR ERIC,
THERE IS NO JUSTICE.
BECAUSE HE'S GONE.
NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, IT'S NOT
GOING TO BRING HIM BACK, AND FOR
ME, THAT WAS SOMEWHAT OF CLOSURE
BUT NOT JUSTICE.
JUSTICE WILL BE WHEN ALL THE
OFFICERS WHO WAS INVOLVED IN MY
SON'S MURDER THAT DAY WHEN THEY
STAND ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR
WRONG DOING, THEN THAT WOULD BE
A SENSE OF JUSTICE.
>> NOW, THIS HAS BEEN
INVESTIGATED, AS I MENTIONED IN
OUR INTRODUCTION HERE, FOR YEARS
NOW, AT VARIOUS LEVELS.
THE GRAND JURY IN STATEN ISLAND
CHOSE NOT TO BRING ANY STATE
LEVEL CHARGES.
>> THAT'S CORRECT.
>> AND FAIRLY RECENTLY THE
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT DECIDED NOT
TO SEEK ANY FEDERAL CHARGES, ANY
CIVIL RIGHTS CHARGES AGAINST
DANIEL PANTALEO.
WERE YOU SURPRISED BY THAT
DECISION BY THE JUSTICE
DEPARTMENT?
IT TOOK MANY YEARS, AND WE'RE
TOLD THERE WAS SIGNIFICANT
DIVISION WITHIN THE JUSTICE
DEPARTMENT ABOUT WHETHER THEY
SHOULD MOVE FORWARD, THE
DECISION WAS MADE NOT TO.
DID THAT SURPRISE YOU?
>> IT DIDN'T ACTUALLY SURPRISE
ME, BUT IT DISAPPOINTED ME
BECAUSE THEY SHOULD HAVE -- NO
MATTER WHO IS IN OFFICE, I FEEL
THAT THIS IS A DEMOCRACY, AND
THEY SHOULD TAKE A FAIR LOOK AT
WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED TO MY SON
TO MAKE A DECISION, NOT BECAUSE
OF THE ADMINISTRATION THAT IS IN
CHARGE AT THAT TIME, BUT THEY
JUST DECIDED NOT TO GO FORWARD
AND THE REASON WAS SO LUDICROUS
TO ME, AND I JUST THOUGHT IT WAS
SUCH A DISAPPOINTMENT, SO
DISPARAGING TO ME, THAT THEY
WOULD NOT CONTINUE WITH THE
CASE, SO I DIDN'T STOP.
I'M STILL -- I STILL HAVE HOPE
BECAUSE SOMEONE HAS TO SEE THAT
THIS IS WRONG.
THE WHOLE WORLD WATCHED MY SON
BEING MURDERED ON VIDEO.
EVERYONE, THEY PROTESTED, THEY
SUPPORTED ME, I HAD DIFFERENT
ORGANIZATIONS LIKE THE NATIONAL
ACTION NETWORK, THE CPR, JUSTICE
COMMITTEE, THEY ALL CAME TO MY
AID TO HELP ME TO FIGHT FOR
THIS.
BECAUSE I KNOW I COULDN'T GET
THIS FAR WITHOUT THE HELP OF THE
MEDIA, WITHOUT THE HELP OF THE
ORGANIZATIONS, AND THEY SEEN
THAT I WAS SERIOUS ABOUT THIS
FIGHT, SO THEY GOT BEHIND ME.
>> HOW DO YOU ANSWER PEOPLE WHO
ARE FAMILIAR WITH THE SITUATION
AND THEY WATCH YOU AND LISTEN TO
YOU AND SAY, WHAT A TERRIBLE
TRAGEDY, A TERRIBLE LOSS OF
LIFE, BUT THEN THEY SAY,
HOWEVER, THIS ENTIRE SITUATION
WOULD NEVER HAVE HAD TO TAKE
PLACE IF ERIC HAD NOT BEEN
INVOLVED THIS THIS ACTIVITY THAT
WAS AT SOME LEVEL ILLEGAL AND IF
HE HAD IMMEDIATELY COOPERATED
WITH POLICE.
WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THOSE PEOPLE?
>> WELL, I SAY TO THOSE PEOPLE
HE WAS -- THEY WERE ALLEGEDLY
ACCUSING HIM OF SELLING
CIGARETTES THAT DAY, WHICH HE
WAS NOT SELLING CIGARETTES THAT
DAY, NOT SAYING THAT HE DIDN'T
SELL CIGARETTES.
BUT EVEN IF HE WAS, EVEN IF THEY
CAUGHT HIM SELLING A CIGARETTE,
IT'S NOT A DEATH SENTENCE.
WHY WOULD HE KILL MY SON?
WHY WOULD HE MURDER MY SON FOR
SELLING A CIGARETTE, WHICH HE
WASN'T DOING THAT DAY?
SO I'VE SEEN PEOPLE -- I MEAN, I
HAVE ACTUALLY SEEN LIKE AN
INTERACTION WITH POLICE OFFICERS
AND ANOTHER INDIVIDUAL WHERE THE
POLICE ACTUALLY DEESCALATED A
SITUATION WHERE THERE WAS ONE
MAN CHASING ANOTHER MAN WITH A
GUN, AND THE OFFICERS CORNERED
HIM AND SAID I WOULD PUT THAT
DOWN IF I WERE YOU, SON, I WOULD
PUT IT DOWN, AND INSTEAD OF
SAYING -- NOW, THEY WOULD HAVE
BEEN JUSTIFIED, YOU KNOW, HE GOT
THE GUN IN HIS HAND AND THEY'RE
SURROUNDING HIM.
IF THEY'D HAVE SHOT HIM, THEY
WOULD HAVE SAID, OH, THEY FEARED
FOR HIS LIFE, THEY HAD A LOADED
WEAPON BUT THEY CHOSE NOT TO
TAKE HIS LIFE, AND I THINK THAT
WAS VERY COMMENDABLE OF THEM.
>> DO YOU THINK THAT PERHAPS ONE
OF THE LEGACIES OF YOUR SON'S
DEATH MIGHT BE SIMILAR TO WHAT
YOU JUST MENTIONED TO US NOW,
BETTER TRAINING IN TERMS OF
POLICE OFFICERS, BETTER
RECOGNITION OF THE IDEA OF
DEESCALATION, A BETTER
DEVELOPMENT OF SKILLS THAT WOULD
BE HELPFUL IN THOSE TYPES OF
SITUATIONS SPECIFICALLY, AND
GENERALLY, BETTER WAYS TO CREATE
RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN POLICE
OFFICERS AND THE COMMUNITY.
DO YOU THINK PERHAPS THAT IS
STARTING TO HAPPEN?
>> THAT WOULD HELP A LOT.
BUT IT WOULD ONLY HELP IF THE
POLICE OFFICERS ARE THERE TO DO
THEIR JOB.
THERE ARE SOME POLICE OFFICERS
WHO ARE ON THE FORCE THAT HAS
THEIR OWN AGENDA.
THEY HAVE THEIR OWN SCHEDULE.
THEY'RE NOT GOING BY POLICE
POLICIES, THEY'RE NOT GOING BY
THE LAW, THEY'RE DOING THINGS
THEIR OWN WAY, AND I FOUND THAT
OUT WHEN I WENT TO THE
DEPARTMENTAL TRIAL FOR MY SON.
THINGS THAT OFFICERS SAID THAT
ONE OFFICER SAID BECAUSE MY SON
WAS -- ONE OFFICER TWEETED, I
MEAN, TEXT THE OTHER OFFICER,
AND SAYS, OH, I THINK ERIC
GARNER IS DOA, AND THE OFFICER
SAID NOT A BIG DEAL.
SO NOW THAT REALLY REALLY GOT --
NOW, THAT OFFICER DOES NOT
BELONG ON THE FORCE.
ANYTIME SOMEONE WHO'S IN YOUR --
THIS IS YOUR TOWN, THIS IS YOUR
CITIZENS THAT YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO
BE POLICING OR SUPERVISING
POLICING AND YOU'RE GOING TO SAY
NOT A BIG DEAL BECAUSE A
CIVILIAN IS LAYING ON THE
GROUND, AN UNARMED CIVILIAN,
LAYING ON THE GROUND, DOA, AND
IT'S NOT A BIG DEAL.
NOW, THE SHOE SHOULD BE ON THE
OTHER FOOT AND I WANT YOU TO SAY
NOT A BIG DEAL OR SOMEONE SAY
THAT ABOUT YOUR CHILD AND HOW
WOULD YOU RESPOND TO THAT.
>> YOU MENTIONED IN YOUR LAST
COMMENTS HERE SOME POLICE
OFFICERS AND I'VE SAID THIS
BEFORE, AS A PROSECUTOR, I
PROSECUTED SOME POLICE OFFICERS.
AS A DEFENSE ATTORNEY, I
DEFENDED SOME POLICE OFFICERS
AND MY BELIEF HAS ALWAYS BEEN,
MY BELIEF, THE VAST MAJORITY OF
POLICE OFFICERS ARE GOOD PEOPLE
DOING A GOOD JOB, THE PROBLEM IS
SOME ARE NOT.
AND THAT'S WITH ANY PROFESSION,
YOU WILL FIND THAT, AND THE
DIFFERENCE IS WHEN YOU'RE
TALKING ABOUT POLICING SOME WHO
ARE NOT DOING A GOOD JOB ARE
MUCH MORE PROBLEMATIC THAN IN
OTHER PROFESSIONS.
>> RIGHT.
>> DO YOU FEEL IN THE YEARS
SINCE ERIC'S DEATH, AND THE
CONVERSATIONS YOU HAVE HAD WITH
COMMUNITY LEADERS, WITH POLICE
LEADERS, DO YOU FEEL -- AND
LET'S FOCUS HERE ON NEW YORK
CITY, DO YOU FEEL LIKE WE'RE
MAKING PROGRESS IN BETTER
RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN POLICE
OFFICERS AND THE COMMUNITY AND
BETTER TRAINING?
>> I THINK IN SOME AREAS WE ARE,
BUT, AGAIN, IT COMES DOWN TO THE
POLICE OFFICERS AND IT COMES
DOWN TO THEIR SUPERIORS.
POLICE OFFICERS IS ONLY GOING TO
GO AS FAR AS THEIR SUPERIORS
ALLOW THEM TO.
NOW, YOU SHOULD KNOW THE PEOPLE
IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD WHO YOU ARE
POLICING.
YOU SHOULD HAVE A BETTER
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PEOPLE IN
THE NEIGHBORHOOD WHO YOU ARE
POLICING.
I KNOW WHEN I WAS A KID, IT
WAS -- TO ME IT WAS BETTER
BECAUSE THE POLICE OFFICERS WHO
USED TO PATROL, THEY PATROLLED
ON FOOT.
AND IF THEY SEE YOU DOING
ANYTHING, THEY KNEW YOUR
PARENTS, THEY WOULD TAKE YOU TO
YOUR PARENTS OR THEY WOULD GO TO
YOUR PARENTS' HOUSE AND SAY, OH,
I SEEN YOUR SON ON THE CORNER.
HE WAS SHOOTING DICE OR I SEEN
HIM DOING WHATEVER.
BUT IT WAS SUCH A BETTER
COMMUNITY AND COMMUNICATION WITH
THE POLICE OFFICERS AND THE
COMMUNITY.
WE DON'T HAVE THAT NOW.
THEY RIDE AROUND IN THE CARS.
THEY DON'T GET OUT TO EVEN
INTRODUCE THEMSELVES TO THE
NEIGHBORHOOD, AND I THINK THAT
WE HAVE TO COME BACK TO THAT IN
ORDER FOR US TO HAVE BETTER
RELATIONSHIPS.
>> IT MAY WELL BE AT THIS
JUNCTURE THAT THERE MAY NOT BE
ANYMORE OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS
WITH REGARD TO ERIC'S DEATH.
BUT I KNOW YOU HAVE SAID THIS IS
NOT THE END OF THIS JOURNEY FOR
YOU.
WHAT IS IT THAT YOU WANT TO
ACCOMPLISH NOW, AND HOW DO YOU
SEE YOURSELF MOVING FORWARD WITH
THIS?
>> WELL, I'VE BEEN UP IN
WASHINGTON, I TALKED TO THE
LEGISLATURES UP THERE, TO THE
CONGRESS, AND I'M ASKING THEM TO
HAVE HEARINGS ON, YOU KNOW, LIKE
WHEN THE DOJ SAID THAT THEY'RE
NOT MOVING FORWARD, I WANT THEM
TO DISCUSS THIS WHY DIDN'T THEY
MOVE FORWARD, PICK THIS APART,
AND SEE IF THEY WERE JUSTIFIED
IN MAKING THAT DECISION.
YOU KNOW, I'M NOT JUST GOING TO
STOP HERE BECAUSE THAT -- THE
COMMISSIONER SAID HE'S NOT GOING
TO FIRE -- HE'S NOT GOING TO
BRING ANYMORE CHARGES TO THE
OFFICERS THAT WERE INVOLVED IN
THE -- IN MY SON'S DEATH THAT
DAY.
THIS IS HIS FEELINGS AND I HAVE
MY FEELINGS, THAT I'M STILL
PUSHING FORWARD.
THIS IS MY JOURNEY FOR NOW
BECAUSE IT'S NOT -- MY SON IS
GONE, BUT THERE ARE OTHER LIVES
OUT HERE THAT WE HAVE TO SAVE.
AND I THINK THAT THIS SHOULD BE
A STEP IN WAKING UP THE WORLD,
WAKING UP THE CITY TO SAY, HEY,
WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT
THIS.
LET'S WEAN OUT THE BAD POLICE
OFFICERS SO THAT WE'LL HAVE A
BETTER CITY.
>> GWEN, I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR
SPENDING SOME TIME WITH US, AND
YOU HAVE ALWAYS BEEN VERY OPEN
IN SHARING YOUR THOUGHTS AND
YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT ALL OF THIS,
AND AS WE SAID, HOPEFULLY FROM A
TERRIBLE TRAGEDY MAY WELCOME
SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SPENDING
TIME WITH US.
AND WE'LL TALK TO YOU AGAIN.
>> OKAY.
THANK YOU.
>> YOU BE WELL.

Funders

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