Nearly two-thirds of New York City residents said a white police officer who put a black Staten Island man in an apparent chokehold before his death should have been indicted, according to a poll released Friday.
The New York Times/Siena College survey was conducted Dec. 4-10 after a Staten Island grand jury declined to bring criminal charges against Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner, 43. The survey also found that by 48 percent to 45 percent, New Yorkers think race relations in their city are strained. City residents' views on a host of issues are divided along racial lines.
Large majorities of black and Latino residents -- 85 percent and 73 percent respectively -- said the grand jury should have issued criminal charges in the Garner case. A slimmer plurality of whites -- 50 percent to 31 percent -- agreed.
Similarly, 86 percent of black and 76 percent of Latino residents said the federal government should charge Pantaleo for violating Garner's civil rights. Whites were split, 42 percent-42 percent.
Garner, a father of six, was allegedly selling loose cigarettes outside a strip of stores on July 17 when officers stopped him and wrestled him to the ground. During the confrontation, part of which was recorded, Garner, who was unarmed, could be heard in the video saying "I can't breathe" 11 times.
Since the grand jury voted not to indict Pantaleo there have been daily protests.
The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into Garner's death, and the NYPD is conducting its own review for potential disciplinary action.
New Yorkers are also divided by race on a number of other issues, from the performance of the police department to how minority residents are treated by the city's criminal justice system.
While an overwhelming number of black and Latino residents -- 83 percent and 71 percent respectively -- said minorities are not treated fairly by the city's criminal justice system, whites were more divided, with 45 percent agreeing and 42 percent disagreeing.
More than half the respondents think police officers who cause deaths and injuries to civilians are treated too leniently by the criminal justice system, but there is a wide gulf between the views of white and minority New Yorkers. While 72 percent of black and 66 of Latino residents believe that officers receive lenient treatment, only 36 percent of white New Yorkers think so.
Nearly half of white New Yorkers thought the police department is doing a good job, only 17 percent of black and 28 percent of Latino New Yorkers feel the same.
The poll of 760 New York City residents by landline and cellphone had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.