BLACK VOICES
12/03/2014 10:24 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

'Hell No!': Eric Garner's Widow Rejects Officer's Condolences Amid Shock Over Grand Jury's Decision

The family of Eric Garner addressed the nation Wednesday after a grand jury announced its decision not to indict an NYPD officer in Garner's death.

Garner, a Staten Island man who had asthma, died on July 17 after Officer Daniel Pantaleo placed him in a prohibited police chokehold during an arrest. Police suspected Garner, who was black, of selling untaxed cigarettes on the sidewalk. The incident was captured on video, where Garner can be heard repeatedly telling officers "I can't breathe!" before his body goes limp.

At a press conference Wednesday at the Harlem headquarters of the National Action Network, the advocacy group founded by Al Sharpton, Garner's widow, Esaw Garner, and his mother, Gwen Carr, expressed their disappointment with the grand jury's decision and their frustration that Pantaleo would not be held accountable by a court.

Esaw Garner became visibly angry when asked if she accepted the remorse Pantaleo expressed earlier that day. In a statement, Pantaleo offered his condolences to the family and said he never intended to harm Garner.

"Hell no!" Garner replied. "The time for remorse would have been when my husband was yelling to breathe."

"No, I don't accept his apology. No, I could care less about his condolences," she continued. "He's still working. He's still getting a paycheck. He's still feeding his kids, when my husband is six feet under and I'm looking for a way to feed my kids now."

"Who's going to play Santa Claus for my grandkids this year?" she said. "Who's going to play Santa Claus?"

Garner and Carr, along with Sharpton -- who has worked closely with the family since Garner's death -- have reportedly met with Attorney General Eric Holder, and the U.S. Justice Department has confirmed that it will conduct a civil rights investigation into the case.

"I'm determined to get justice for my husband," Garner said Wednesday. "My husband's death will not be in vain. I will fight till the end."

Matt Sledge contributed reporting.


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