Esaw Snipes-Garner, the widow of Eric Garner, still wants some type of justice for her husband’s death. So, she’s reliving the most painful event of her life in an upcoming movie.
She’ll play herself in the Eric Garner movie, which was directed by 31-year-old Roee Messinger. It’s an exploration of how would have turned out if the NYPD officer who choked Garner to death had gone to trial.
Officer Daniel Pantaleo was caught on video by one of the people watching the man being choked while down on the ground. On the July 17, 2014 video, Garner could clearly be heard telling the officer “I can’t breath” during the 15 to 19-second choke hold.
A grand jury was convened to investigate the case. It chose not to indict Officer Pantaleo. Many, including the victim’s widow, Esaw Snipes-Garner, believe the courts should have let a jury decide. Messinger’s production, “American Trial,” will feature real-life attorneys and Eric Garner’s widow.
Garner’s widow Esaw Snipes-Garner hopes the film might nudge federal prosecutors to think hard about overlooked aspects of Garner’s death and come back with an indictment.
“Bringing this to light may trigger something in one of their brains,” she said.
She’s even been in several scenes already – an emotional experience that’s brought her back to the day of her 43-year-old husband’s death, she said.
In one of the scenes, she meets with the prosecution team, played by Steven Raiser and Thomas Kenniff.
The pair tell her why they aren’t going ahead with a murder charge in the case and seeking for less severe charges instead.
“What about the fact that they pounced on him after he was down on the ground? And not even so much as the fact that he was saying he can’t breathe,” she asks in the scene.
A Brooklyn grand jury has heard evidence in a civil rights case over Garner’s death, but observers are skeptical feds will bring charges with President Trump in office.
Messinger said he is devoted to making his movie version of justice as accurate as possible.
“The merits of this project will only be recognized if I’m able do something balanced and objective,” he told the Daily News.
While the project continues, Snipes-Garner, 49, is pushing on.
“Time heals all wounds. I don’t think I’ll ever truly be healed, but I’ve learned to cope and be strong,” she said.
Messinger, who’s part Israeli and part Swiss, came to New York from Mexico and studied film at City College on a Fulbright scholarship. He began working on “American Trial” before he graduated in 2015.
So far, the film has raised $40,000 – investments of $10,000 from each of the four attorneys involved, said Messinger. The Maysles Documentary Center is also a fiscal sponsor. Messiner is hoping to raise $50,000 through online crowdfunding, too.He is planning to shoot the trial in June. A New York City courtroom used for “Law & Order” is one potential set, he said.