New York man dies after being choked by police officer

NEW YORK — Confronted by police trying to arrest him for allegedly selling illegal cigarettes, Eric Garner raised both hands in the air and, with passive defiance, told the officers not to touch him. Seconds later, a video shows the officer behind him grab the 350-pound man in a chokehold and pull him to the sidewalk, rolling him onto his stomach.

“I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” Garner said repeatedly, his cries muffled into the pavement.

The video of the Thursday skirmish shows the Staten Island man lying on the ground motionless after the incident. An asthmatic, Garner was later declared dead at a nearby hospital, according to WCBS. Police said he suffered a heart attack and died en route to the hospital.

“This is a terrible tragedy that occurred yesterday. A terrible tragedy that no family should have to experience,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, calling the video of the incident “very troubling.”

Police told WCBS that 43-year-old Garner, a father of six, had a lengthy criminal history and had been previously arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes in May.

Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who is seen on video choking Garner, was put on modified assignment and stripped of his shield and gun as the New York Police Department continues to investigate the incident, WCBS reported. The chokehold tactic is prohibited by the NYPD.

Four paramedics were also removed from responding to emergencies and reassigned to other duties, a fire department official said without elaborating why.

In a statement, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch called Pantaleo’s reassignment “a completely unwarranted, kneejerk reaction for political reasons.” He said the move “effectively pre-judges this case and denies the officer the very benefit of a doubt that has long been part of the social contract that allows police officers to face the risks of this difficult and complex job.”

On Saturday, Garner’s friends and family rallied alongside the Rev. Al Sharpton in Upper Manhattan, demanding a full investigation into Garner’s death, according to WCBS.

Garner’s wife was set to speak at the rally but found herself too emotional, WCBS reported.

New York photographer Joel Graham was at Saturday’s demonstration, which lasted for two hours.

“This crowd was composed of good, well-meaning people who understood that peace was the only option and were adamant that things remain calm over Eric’s death. I have been to protests that have been violent, but this crowd reflected who Eric was,” he said.

Graham, an area resident, had a familiar relationship with Garner. “I am an urban art photographer, and I will talk to everyone on the streets of New York City,” he said, explaining that he would occasionally chat with Garner while taking photos near the Staten Island Ferry.

“I had empathy for Eric and how he must have felt trying to catch his breath, and sympathy for the family. This was a heartfelt emotional protest because everyone loved Eric,” he said.

17 comments

  • Travis havicc

    Very sad but if you watch the unedidted versions it shows he was resisting arrest. Look at the size of this man he could smash you into a bloody pulp within seconds. Cops don’t have the luxury of “leaving you alone” if you’re committing a crime. He died from cardiac arrest not from being choked to death which is a result of him being morbidly obese. If he would have cooperated he would be alive today. But once again we blame law enforcement for doing their job. I always side with law enforcement but I’m smart enough to keep my mouth shut when they do wrong. I saw nothing wrong with how they acted. Maybe we should bring up the lack of respect for law enforcement as a topic. Most departments authorize deadly force when the size differential is so big and the “perp” becomes violent. He was not violent but he was resisting. Lots of hate will come from this let me ask you what would you have done if you were in the officers boots? Use a taser? That could also lead to cardiac arrest on a man of that size which would still get the same uproar. Let him walk away? You have the luxury of turning the blind eye cops do not. If you resist arrest don’t expect to be tickled your face will eat pavement.

      • Sniper Cat (@Sniper__Catz)

        “not that it matters the amount of spelling errors I see from most posts requires an urban dictionary to understand”—is not a complete sentence….just saying.
        Anonymous:
        “The man died of a asthma attk due to his weight and the stressful situation he put himself in..”
        I do not believe this man’s death was the result of asthma, but for arguments sake, let’s pretend it was…..
        Now we must ask our selves, what CAUSED the asthma….
        a. the stressful situation?
        b. his weight?
        The fact that he is over weight is completely irrelevant because all overweight people do not have asthma, so your argument is fallacy.
        Therefore it must be a. the stressful situation. So what made the situation stressful?
        BEING PUT IN A CHOKE HOLD!!!!!!!!

    • Sage

      youre dumb… it obviously states that a chokehold is prohibited.. what would i do in the officers boots haha not kill a man. you can not justify anything about him being killed you ignorant fool.

    • Nick

      Maybe a cop will accidently kill someone you love one day. Then your tune will change you pathetic sheep.

      • Anonymous

        We’ll said. It is only when the person they see being killed has no emotional attachment to them. The table will turn if it was your sister, mom, dad or brother. This for the hard law enforcement die hards.

    • Billy

      You simple as the individual to walk over to the police cruiser and get in….this wasn’t a resist or a line drawn in the sand per say….he knew he was going to jail.

    • Anonymous

      You have no proof that he died from cardiac arrest, other than what has been reported to you. Yes, he was overweight would have naturally suffered from cardiovascular disease, but how convenient he dies on the way to the hospital. Surely you will side with the twisted and emotionally numb authorities who never do wrong.

    • Anonymous

      Resisting? Really? Are you crazy? He was not under arrest so how could he resist. He felt being harassed and just turned to walk away when he was immediately jumped with a choke hold. I heard him say several times that he could not breathe and they would not desist. The officer actually had his knee in his throat. Where I live there are very few cops that I trust. I sincerely believe there are almost as many crooked cops as there are drug dealers. They think they are gods. I have received a couple of tickets that were made up. One because the officer new the other participant involved. The other because they didn’t like me telling them how to do their job. Most of them are wimps by themselves, but, get a few together and they are all Hercules. If I was there I would has tried to help this poor guy. I don’t care what he did in the past. As far as I can see he did noting wrong here!!

  • Justice

    Travis had it been your mother or father your comment would be different. Imagine you mother being choked to death and now you have to plan her funeral. Your question would be was choking the only way to arrest her? Would she be alive today if they used a different method? Police officers have rules they must follow. This man was choked to death, plain and simple. They could have found another way to arrest him besides choking him. He was not being violent as you mentioned, so why did the police officers felt it was necessary to resort to extreme force to arrest him. The officers used excessive force, that resulted in this man death.

  • john p

    Black/Brown brothers and sisters,get away from the white racist libs,they want us in poverty to be dependent on them for our vote. don’t let them keep foolin’ us !

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    http://news.yahoo.com/violent-weekend-least-40-people-shot-chicago-182226307.html
    LOOK AT ALL THE PROTESTERS OVER THIS INCIDENT YET NOT O-N-E IN CHICAGO FOR THE 40 SHOT. ! told you white libs DONT CARE about us black folk !

  • Kendall J. Calvin Sr.

    Mike Galanos, an Anchor on HLN, suggest that Eric Garner was not choked, but had an asthmatic attack! We are being told that what we saw was not a full on choke hold, or the man would not be able to speak at all. Are we seeing the same event? Fact: Eric Garner was not being arrested for selling cigarettes at the time he was killed!

  • Anonymous

    He did not die because of the choke, he died because he was overweight.. Plenty of people get taken down like this and in some cases worse than this and still live, The officer took him down and let the neck go.. He did not hold the choke.. The man died of a asthma attk due to his weight and the stressful situation he put himself in..

    • big daddy

      Really? He just so happened to have died at that particular moment? Please. Also, don’t you think the illegal choke hold in some way contributed to “the stressful situation” he experienced?

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