'We have an Erica Garner problem': Clinton campaign ripped for talk of Eric Garner's death

Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner © Brendan McDermid
Erica Garner, whose father was killed by New York City police in 2014, lashed out at the Hillary Clinton campaign for revelations in leaked emails that showed campaign staff discussing how to use Eric Garner's death to bolster Clinton's gun-control stance.

Garner took to Twitter on Thursday to slam an email chain among campaign staff members for the Democratic presidential candidate, part of the emails from the account of campaign chairman John Podesta revealed by Wikileaks.

In the email chain, concerning the staff's preparation of an op-ed by Clinton on gun violence, campaign press secretary Nick Merrill says, "I know we have Erica Garner issues but we don't want to mention Eric at all? I can see her coming after us for leaving him out of the piece."

On July 17, 2014, Garner, 43, was confronted by New York Police Department officer Daniel Pantaleo and other officers for allegedly selling "loosies" — untaxed cigarettes — on a street corner in Staten Island, before Pantaleo put Garner in a chokehold. Garner eventually died, repeating "I can't breathe." His last words became a slogan of numerous protests against police brutality across the nation.

Since then, Garner's daughter Erica has become a strong voice against police impunity and institutional racism in America. She has also criticized Clinton on a range of issues and endorsed Clinton's rival Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primaries.

"I'm troubled by the revelation that you and this campaign actually discussed 'using' Eric Garner ... Why would you want to 'use' my dad?" Garner tweeted on Thursday.

She also tweeted at Corey Ciorciari, a Clinton policy advisor. "I'm very interested to know exactly what @CoreyCiorciari meant when he said 'I know we have an Erica Garner problem' in the #PodestaEmails19."

In the email chain, Clinton's senior policy advisor Maya Harris pointed out that Garner's death didn't fit with the gun violence theme of the candidate's op-ed, as Garner was not killed by gunfire.

Addressing this, Erica Garner tweeted, "I'm glad you had Maya on your team to explain why you wont be USING my dad in you f**king gun violence piece... Black woman saved your a**."

Clinton has said in the past that Garner was doing something "illegal" but that he did not "need to die."

Meanwhile, in a separate email, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta implies that Eric Garner's death was justified, or at least excusable. "I just saw the film [of Garner's encounter with NYPD officers]. I do not agree with you,"Herbert Sandler, a bundler for a Clinton Super PAC, replies to Podesta, going on to add that the chokehold applied to Garner was likely illegal, and that the "actions by the four officers was clearly excessive."

Podesta responded: "You and the rest of the world. I'll go back and look at the whole film rather than a 6 second clip."

Podesta's campaign emails have been published by WikiLeaks every day for the past three weeks, revealing the inner machinations of the Clinton campaign.

In December 2014, a New York grand jury decided not to indict Pantaleo. The US Department of Justice then opened its own investigation into the incident. The DOJ's probe has stalled since, however, as federal prosecutors and FBI agents in New York assigned to the case argued that federal charges should not be brought against Pantaleo.

This week, it was reported by the New York Times that the DOJ has assigned new FBI investigators and federal prosecutors to the case, indicating an increased likelihood that federal charges might be filed against Pantaleo.