It was a family tragedy as father-of-six, 43-year-old Eric Garner, died on Thursday 17 July after being put in a chokehold by police and pinned to the ground on Staten Island, New York.
Eric Garner was arrested by police outside a beauty salon on Staten Island under suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes.
In footage taken of the arrest and later published by New York Daily News, we see the 350 pound asthmatic Garner approached by two plain clothes officers and questioned about alleged selling of untaxed cigarettes.
Garner says that “he didn’t do s***” and that he was “just minding his own business”, before the police ask him to give them his hands so that he can be handcuffed.
When Garner refuses, one of the officers tries to forcibly take his hand before up to a half-dozen of them pounced, pushed him to the ground and sat on him. One of the cops had a locked elbow around his neck, a chokehold, and Eric Garner kept repeating, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.” before he became unresponsive.
Garner was taken to Richmond University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, according to police. Sources told CBS 2 an ongoing internal police investigation indicated that a preliminary examination of Garner’s body did not show damage to his trachea. But the official manner and cause of death was pending further studies and determination by the New York City Medical Examiner’s office.
Earlier Sunday, the Rev. Al Sharpton demanded justice for Garner, while also saying civilians who kill police officers should be held accountable.
Speaking at Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Dr., three days after Garner’s death, Sharpton questioned why an officer allegedly maintained a choke hold even after the asthmatic said he couldn’t breathe.
“Even if police procedure doesn’t kick in, when does your sense of humanity kick in?” Sharpton said.
Garner died shortly after the incident of cardiac arrest, police said.
Officer Daniel Pantaleo, the cop linked to the choke hold, has been stripped of his gun and badge while the NYPD continues to investigate. Another officer involved in the takedown was placed on desk duty.