The decision effectively closed the five-year-old case that had fuelled national "Black Lives Matter" protests calling for police around the country to be held accountable for the deaths of unarmed African-Americans in their custody or facing arrest. Officials said Tuesday that Attorney General William Barr sided with federal prosecutors in NY to not prosecute Pantaleo, against the recommendation of the department's Civil Rights Division that wanted to "move forward with prosecution".
Cousin Michael Garner stressed that the family has the "utmost respect" for law enforcement when it is "applied fairly".
She called for Pantaleo and the other officers to be fired, saying, "The streets of NY are not safe with them walking around".
Even though chokeholds are outlawed by NY police, a grand jury declined to press charges against Pantaleo or others in December 2014, amid claims that Garner suffered from a heart condition and asthma that could have caused his death. "Scapegoating a good and honourable officer, who was doing his job in the manner he was taught, will not heal the wounds this case has caused for our entire city". Headed by Jeff Sessions, the department stalled the case.
He also pointed to a difference among medical experts as to the cause of Garner's death.
Garner's family immediately criticized the decision clearing Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who put Garner in a chokehold, as a betrayal, and called for his dismissal from the police force.
Prosecutors in the administrative trial argued that his alleged chokehold, which the NY police department has banned completely since the 1990s, killed Garner.
In a statement, NYPD spokesman Phil Walzak said the DOJ's decision doesn't affect the departmental proceeding. He could lose vacation days or be fired.
U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue announced Tuesday that the government's investigation into Garner's 2014 death "has been closed".
Tina Luongo, the attorney in charge of the criminal defense practice at The Legal Aid Society, said the long wait for the Justice Department's decision had unnecessarily prolonged the Garner family's anguish.
Prosecutors will not charge a NYPD officer in the death of Eric Garner.
Rep. Max Rose (D-Staten Island/South Brooklyn) said it shouldn't have taken five years for the Garner family, and the community, to be left with no sense of closure that will now never come.
Medical experts have determined Garner's death was a homicide induced by "compression of neck, compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police".
However, de Blasio did not say whether the city intends to fire Officer Daniel Pantaleo.
De Blasio, a Democrat and a presidential candidate, said reforms over the last five years have improved relations between the city's police and communities.
Officials told USA media that the final decision not the bring charges was made by Attorney General William Barr.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal deliberations and investigative matters.
The AP says that prosecutors watched video of the incident "countless times" but couldn't that Pantaleo acted willfully against the law which includes NYPD's policy on chokeholds.
Prosecutors had to examine Pantaleo's state of mind, and it would be a "high standard" to prove the case to a jury, the official said. A news conference was planned afterward with the Rev. Al Sharpton, and they were expected to address the outcome.
New York Attorney General Letitia James criticized the DOJ's decision on Tuesday.
"Let this officer be prosecuted, because if she (Eric Garner's wife, Esaw) gets that, it's a win for us all", she said at the rally.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. Police had suspected him of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes on the street on New York City's Staten Island. Garner's wheezing of "I can't breathe" became a rallying cry for activism and protests about the way police officers treat black men.
March 19, 2015: A judge refuses to release testimony heard by a grand jury that declined to indict Pantaleo.