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Eric Garner's Family Presses for Officer's Arrest in Chokehold Case

Saturday, August 02, 2014

WNYC

The family of Eric Garner, who died from being held in a chokehold during a police arrest, on Saturday called for prosecutors to pursue the case against the police officers involved. 

"I just want them to do the right thing and give me justice for my husband," said Garner's widow, Esaw Garner. She spoke to supporters gathered at the Harlem headquarters of Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network in Harlem.

Her comments came a day after the New York City medical examiner determined 43-year-old Garner died from "compression of neck" and "compression of chest" while being restrained by the police. The chokehold is banned by the New York City Police Department. 

Asthma, heart disease and obesity were contributing factors in the death of Garner, a 6-foot-3, 350-pound father of six, the medical examiner said.

The incident started when police suspected Garner was selling untaxed, loose cigarettes and moved to arrest him. Garner resisted. The videotape of his arrest showed the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, using a chokehold on Garner which sparked outrage and led to the overhaul of use-of-force training for the nation's largest police department.

Sharpton said the district attorney of Staten Island, where Garner died on July 17, should move forward on making an arrest or allow the federal law enforcement to step in.

"It was the cause of death. And that the medical examiner says therefore: homicide. That in and of itself is probable cause for an arrest," he said. Sharpton told the crowd on Saturday he doesn't dislike the NYPD but officers who break the law hurt the whole police department.

"What reinforces it is when you won’t deal with the bad ones,” he said.

Sharpton invited a man who had accused Pantaleo of wrong-doing two years before Garner's death to the podium. Tommy Rice said he complained to the Civilian Complaint Review Board and the NYPD that Pantaleo strip searched him and a friend in the middle of the day on a public street. He alleged the officer also made false claims about finding drugs in their car. Rice said they were paid $30,000 by the city to settle a civil lawsuit

After Garner's death, Pantaleo was stripped of his gun and badge and another officer was placed on desk duty. Pantaleo's attorney, Stuart London, declined to comment.

A spokesman for Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan said Friday that prosecutors were still investigating the death. Donovan will have to determine whether to empanel a grand jury and file charges.

The president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, Patrick Lynch, expressed his sympathies to Garner's family but noted Garner "was a man with serious health problems."

Federal officials are monitoring the investigation but have not begun their own inquiry, a Department of Justice spokeswoman said. 

With additional reporting from the Associated Press

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Comments [3]

Bruce King

They Applied a choke to an unarmed man - to the point he lost consciousness - and held that choke until he stopped breathing. Then - knowing he went limp and was unconscious did not check for breathing or a pulse or didn't see his chest wasn't moving. I've messed up a rear naked choke myself. You turn the guy on his side and make sure he's ok. They killed him - like a hit man would. And did not resuscitate him. This is way bigger than the use of choke holds. These guys knew exactly what would happen if they held that choke - and if they did not revive him. I hope the FBI gets involved.

Aug. 04 2014 12:16 PM
Bruce King from Washington, DC

Are you ok that police can use lethal force, kill you and NOT REVIVE YOU or a loved one for resisting arrest?

This is a symptom of a bigger problem. This is not a police office issue. This is not directly a training issue. This is a leadership issue. The choke isn't the problem - the fact the cops used it and DIDN'T REVIVE HIM when it killed him - is a huge problem.

When you've had hundreds of complaints that a banned lethal choke is being used on citizens by people paid to protect them, and it is not immediately corrected - that a leadership problem.

I think the Police Commissioner and Mayor should resign their positions. Eric's children will forever remember their father as the main choked to death and not revived by people paid to protect him.

1) Ask for their resignation
2) Do not visit or support the city of new york or its products or services until they do
3) Contact your congressman about what federal agency is responsible for guaranteeing the police do their job

The police have helped me and others many many times. In this case, leadership has failed. We are seeing a symptom of a culture that makes it ok and routine to kill people. For real change to take effect, serious consequences must occur.

Put those officers in jail, and the problem continues. Fix the "training problem", and the problem will continue.

Hold leadership accountable today and this problem ends overnight.

Aug. 04 2014 10:00 AM
Newburgh resident from NYC

Why we give Al Sharpton the time of day is amazing. The guy doesn't pay his taxes, destroyed people's lives with lies with the Tawayna Brawley faux stories. Can we do a story of how the rev has a new wardrobe, where his money goes? How he pays for these expenses? His storefront church on 145th street is Harlem is the biggest eye sore in Harlem, he does nothing to assist for the improvement of the local neighborhood and if there is any place in the area which should be torn down to build affordable housing it should be this store front.

Aug. 03 2014 10:14 AM

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