By Steve Neavling
In an unusual shakeup, the Justice Department has dumped a New York team of agents and lawyers investigating the death of Eric Garner, who was killed when a police officer placed him in a chokehold over selling untaxed cigarettes.
The Justice Department is replacing the agents and lawyers after the case has been stymied over a dispute between federal prosecutors and FBI officials about whether to file charges, the New York Times reports.
Prosecutors with the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department have been in favor of filing charges, saying there is sufficient evidence in the case.
Recently FBI agents were replaced with agents outside of New York. Federal prosecutors were taken off the case.
It’s not yet clear whether the civil rights prosecutors will work solo to present evidence to a grand jury.
The Justice Department and FBI declined to comment.
The shakeup was criticized for the attorney of Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who placed Garner, 43, in a chokehold.
“If it is true that the Justice Department is rejecting the recommendations of seasoned F.B.I. agents and assistant United States attorneys, this is a gross miscarriage of justice,” the attorney, Stuart London, said. “In our system of justice, politics should never take the place of the rule of law.”