GENEVA, Switzerland, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- United Nations experts on minority issues expressed "legitimate concerns" following recent U.S. legal decisions not to bring the cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner's deaths to trial.
"I am concerned by the grand juries' decisions and the apparent conflicting evidence that exists relating to both incidents," U.N. Special Rapporteur on minority issues Rita Izsák said Friday from Geneva.
"The decisions leave many with legitimate concerns relating to a pattern of impunity when the victims of excessive use of force come from African American or other minority communities," Izsák remarked.
A grand jury in Staten Island, NY decided Wednesday not to indict a New York City police officer for using a prohibited chokehold maneuver on Garner, an asthmatic man, who died of a heart attack July 17. A witness captured video of Officer Daniel Pantaelo grabbing Eric Garner, 43, around the neck from behind to restrain him. Garner asked the officer multiple times to release him, saying "I can't breathe."
The announcement followed a St. Louis grand jury's decision, made public Nov. 25, not to prosecute Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 9.
Following the St. Louis grand jury's ruling, the American Civil Liberties Union described Brown's death as "part of an alarming national trend of officers using excessive force against people of color, often during routine encounters."
U.N. Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism Mutuma Ruteere agrees. "There are numerous complaints stating that African Americans are disproportionally affected by such practices of racial profiling and the use of disproportionate and often lethal force."
In order to address the disproportionate use of force against minorities, the U.N. experts advised that ongoing investigations relating to these two deaths should be finalized "without undue delay." The U.S. Department of Justice has said it would investigate both cases.
"We urge a comprehensive examination of all laws that could have discriminatory impact on African Americans to ensure that such laws are in full compliance with the country's legal obligations and relevant international standards," said Mireille Fanon Mendes France, head of the U.N. Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.
That review, a colleague added, should also include the "more permissive" U.S. laws governing use of lethal force.