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Activists Demand Federal Charges Against Officer In Death Of Eric Garner

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A rally was held Saturday outside the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, calling on federal prosecutors to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner on Staten Island.

Friday marked the one-year anniversary of 43-year-old Garner's death.

Rev. Al Sharpton led several hundred activists and residents as they rallied, including Garner's widow Esaw, who said she would never stop fighting for her husband, CBS2's Ilana Gold reported.

""We don't care how long it takes we want justice for Eric Garner," Sharpton said. "We can't breathe and we need to breathe!"

"Money is not enough," Esaw said. "We need justice."

Sharpton and the crowd agreed as they chanted "no justice, no peace."

Esaw Garner
Esaw Garner speaks at a rally calling for federal charges in the death of her husband Eric Garner (Credit: Roger Stern/1010 WINS)

Garner's daughter, Emerald, thanked the crowd, saying her father would have loved the support, 1010 WINS' Derricke Dennis reported.

"My father was a family person, so I'm sure he's looking down at us and saying 'Wow all of you guys came out to support us,'" she said.

Garner was stopped July 17, 2014 outside a Staten Island convenience store because police officers believed he was selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.

A video shot by an onlooker shows Garner telling the officers to leave him alone and refusing to be handcuffed.

Activists Demand Federal Charges Against Officer In Death Of Eric Garner

Officer Daniel Pantaleo placed his arm around Garner's neck to take him down. Garner, who had asthma, is heard gasping "I can't breathe!" 11 times before losing consciousness. He was pronounced dead later at a hospital.

The city medical examiner found the apparent police chokehold contributed to Garner's death.

Chokeholds are banned by NYPD policy. Pantaleo said he used a legal takedown maneuver known as a "seatbelt," not a chokehold.

A grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo. A federal inquiry is ongoing.

Garner's death sparked demonstrations and became a flashpoint in a national debate about relations between police and minority communities.

Earlier this week, Garner's family reached a $5.9 million settlement with New York City over the death. But his family spoke out following news of the settlement, saying it was not about the money.

Activists Demand Federal Charges Against Officer In Death Of Eric Garner

"This settlement that we get, people walking up and down the street are saying 'congratulations.' Don't congratulate us. This is not a victory," Garner's mother Gwen Carr said. "The victory will come when we get justice. Then we want to have a victory party. But now, we still need you all to stand with us as we go forward."

"Justice is when somebody is held accountable for what they do," Garner's daughter Emerald said. "If you do a crime, you do the time. That's how it goes, and it's no excuse."

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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