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Thousands across the nation have been protesting a New York City grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, but his children weren’t shocked at the outcome.
"I feel like they treated him like an animal. And my father wasn't an animal,” Erica Garner said in a Yahoo News interview. “ Even though he was 350 pounds and 6'6”, he wasn’t an animal, he was a big a teddy bear. He was lovable, loved by everybody that he came in contact with," she added.
She’d hoped for a different result.
“After the Ferguson indictment, it’s like I expected it to come out this way, but I was hoping it was gonna be different,” Erica said. “I was disappointed, very disappointed. It's still like, why? You've seen him die on national TV just like everybody else. Why?"
Erica described Eric Garner as a “hands on dad” and expressed frustration at the fact he was confronted for the minor offense of selling cigarettes.
“Not even drugs, guns, knives (or) robbery,” she said.
When her brother thinks of their deceased father, he thinks of moments that now will never happen.
Eric Garner Jr.entered Essex County Community College this year, plays on the basketball team and was hoping his father would get to see his first game.
"The good cops get overlooked by the bad cops," Eric said. One of his basketball coaches is a police officer, and the Garner children both believe that reform in police departments starts with individuals within the force at the street level.
"If you see your coworker acting in a way that you know is wrong, be a bigger man, be a leader and say you know what, this is wrong. Let me stop this," Erica said. "There were too many people, too many officers, too many sergeants out there to prevent my father from dying on that corner."
The nationwide reaction has been overwhelmingly positive to the Garner children, leaving them feeling hopeful.
"They're out there and they're feeling what I'm feeling right now," said Erica. "The support, the amount of people, the signs with my father’s name on it. My father's name is being heard."
- New York Police Union Chief Praises Grand Jury in Eric Garner Case