It has been five years since a viral video showed Eric Garner‘s last moments, with the final words he would speak still haunting our memories: “I can’t breathe.” Those words created a movement to bring justice to the Garner family as well as other victims of police brutality. Many protests later, it was not until August 18 that Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer responsible for Garner’s death, finally lost his job.
Pantaleo’s long-delayed firing also came in the midst of the controversial deal between Jay-Z and the NFL in light of Colin Kaepernick‘s continued blackballing by NFL executives after he tried to call attention to police brutality and deadly force two years after Garner’s death. The coincidentally timed collision of both factors combined a begrudging chorus of “what took so long?” with the realization that while some semblance of justice had been established, it was still largely elusive.
“This is a problem that we face dealing with officers that have been known to use excessive deadly force and keeping their jobs after the fact,” said Lewis, who has represented victims of police brutality, including Clarence Evans, who was mistaken for another man by Houston police in his own driveway in June. She was also a victim of Houston police when she was jailed on false charges in 2016 before successfully suing the city. “It’s very difficult to get them terminated,” she lamented.