Both cases involved attempts to arrest for a nonviolent offense, both involving force deemed illegal by their own police department and the death of both men. He was all concluded by the local medical examiner to be a murder.
However, the officer in the Garner case was never charged while Derek Chauvin has been convicted of murder.
CBS News’s Tony Dokoupil spoke to Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, about what has changed in America and what has not.
“Do you remember where you were… when you heard that [about Chauvin], guilty of all crimes? “Dokoupil asked.”
“In my house there are two TVs on,” Carr said.
“How did you feel in that moment?” Dokoupil asked.
“It’s just my tears starting to fall,” said Carr. “Yes, it was just tears, and I was just, I was indoors alone so I acted crazy.”
“Do you feel like your son is there in some way?” Dokoupil asked.
“Yes I agree. I know his presence was there, and he probably danced with me,” said Carr.
“Do you remember how it felt when you first heard about what happened to George Floyd?” Dokoupil said.
“I said,” This is like an echo from the grave, “said Carr.
As Dokoupil pointed out, there are many similarities, but one huge difference.
“Right. A big difference. They got justice,” said Carr.
In July 2014, when bystanders caught everything on camera, Garner was charged with selling loose cigarettes by a New York City police officer and dragged to the ground.
Although that officer, who put his arm around Garner’s neck, was later fired, he was never charged.
Instead, Garner’s final words helped ignite a movement.
“The first time most people hear the phrase ‘I can’t breathe’ during a march is after your son’s death,” said Dokoupil.
“That’s right,” said Carr.
“Do you think your son’s outrage and protests after the death have helped create the atmosphere needed for justice today?” Dokoupil asked.
“It sets the stage. I’m pretty sure my son’s death and the outrage everyone expressed at the time set the stage. So when other injustices happened, this is why I think everyone stepped out, wow, this happened again, ”said Carr.
“Do you expect at a time when you heard the details of the Floyd case that the family will receive an indictment, a trial and now a verdict?” Dokoupil asked.
“No, I don’t really think so, because I know what happened on previous occasions with so many families,” said Carr.
Even as she celebrated the verdict in the Floyd case, she said it was complicated – a feeling of joy for the Floyd family but also contemplating what happened to the others.
“I’m not only angry, but also resentful that this might continue to happen. It happened to me. It happened to others we would never know. It happened to George Floyd. When to end? Is this the end of it? I don’t think so, ”said Carr.
“Does today feel a little like justice for Eric Garner?” Dokoupil asked.
“It’s part of the justice for all of us,” said Carr.
“There’s no point getting him back,” said Dokoupil.
“No, never,” said Carr.
“But wouldn’t it be a little comfort to know that what happened to him helped kick in. What happened today?” Dokoupil asked.
“Yes. You have to accept the bitterness with the sweetness. You have to say – I say my son does not die in vain. He set a precedent for this day to happen,” said Carr.
Carr also made the point that Floyd’s case was exceptional and most officers did not face charges, let alone a conviction. She specifically mentioned the officers who killed Breonna Taylor in Louisville in a failed raid.