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Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Justice Department has ended its investigation of Daniel Pantaleo, the white NYPD officer accused in the 2014 choking death of Eric Garner, who was African American, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The decision ends a "yearslong inquiry into a case that sharply divided officials and prompted national protests," writes the NY Times. It also means Pantaleo will not be prosecuted. A state grand jury declined to indict him 5 years ago.

  • Garner yelled out "I can't breathe" 11 times during the encounter with Pantaleo, which was captured on video. It quickly became the rallying cry of protests around the country, and Garner's death became a "pivotal flash point" for the Black Lives Matter movement, the Washington Post reports.

Details: Attorney General Barr ultimately made the decision to drop the investigation against Pantaleo, even though civil rights prosecutors pushed for it, reports AP.

  • The Justice Department dropped the investigation because the evidence wasn't sufficient to prove Pantaleo's intent to harm Garner or violate the law, says AP.

What's next: The NYPD held a disciplinary hearing in June regarding the case. However, Commissioner James O’Neill will ultimately decide whether Pantaleo will be fired or face a lesser punishment, says NYT.

Context: Pantaleo was accused of putting a chokehold on Garner after stopping him on a Staten Island street for allegedly selling loose cigarettes, per the New York Times. Pantaleo has been on desk duty since the incident.

Go deeper: Report: Rod Rosenstein “unlikely” to charge cop in Eric Garner case

Go deeper

WHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries

Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization regional director for Africa. Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The World Health Organization called on countries Sunday to not impose travel bans on southern African nations amid concerns over the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The U.S. and countries in Europe and the Asia-Pacific announced travel restrictions in response to Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa. It's since spread to several European countries, Canada, Israel, Australia and Hong Kong. The WHO noted in a statement that only two southern African nations have detected the new variant.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.

8 hours ago - Health

WHO: Not yet known whether Omicron leads to more severe disease

Photo illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Sunday said that it is not yet clear whether the newly discovered Omicron variant is more transmissible than other strains of the COVID-19 virus.

Why it matters: The agency's statement comes as the variant, discovered in South Africa, has already been detected in European and Asian countries.