NYPD officials say that Garner was arrested several times for selling untaxed cigarettes and officers were observing him in the act of doing so yesterday, when they approached him. Garner told the police he was only trying to break up a fight, and then pulled away as officers tried to handcuff him. At that point, police attempted to subdue him and one officer approached him from behind and applied a choke hold with his forearm.
The New York Daily News obtained exclusive video of the incident, which shows Staten Island man Eric Garner, 43, begging officers to let him breathe as he lies on the ground helpless.
Now, his family is demanding accountability from the NYPD.
Police said Garner, who was a married father of six children, died of a heart attack during the arrest, according to The Associated Press. The NYPD said Garner had been seen selling untaxed cigarettes, and that he had been arrested before for the same offense.
In the video, Garner denied the allegations and asked a plainclothes officer why he was stopped.
As Garner is being held down, he can be heard telling police that he “can’t breathe.” Eventually when officers realize he is not responsive, they called in an ambulance, which took Garner to a hospital where he died a short time later.
The apparent violence of the arrest led to outrage and the internal investigation. On line, numerous people tweeted #JusticeforEricGarner, calling attention to the deadly incident.
Policeman’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch, questioned by ABC News about what constitutes an appropriate use of force, said the public should not rush to judge before the official investigation is concluded.
“At times, when officers are required to make an arrest, they must employ the use of force in order to get compliance from an individual who NYPD policy requires must be rear-cuffed for transport to a precinct,” Lynch said. “Force, by its very nature, is an ugly thing to witness. Taken out of the context of what is happening, necessary force can be misinterpreted to be excessive by those who are not trained in law enforcement procedures.”
<p> <a href=”http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/more-1000-new-york-city-residents-claim-be-victims-banned-nypd-chokeholds”>http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/more-1000-new-york-city-residents-claim-be-victims-banned-nypd-chokeholds</a></p>
As of July 1, the CCRB had received 58 chokehold complaints against the NYPD this year, but had only substantiated one of them.
Out of the 1,022 chokehold allegations reported between 2009 and 2013, only 462 of the complaints were investigated. Out of that number, just nine were substantiated, according to the CCRB.
There wasn’t enough evidence to prove a chokehold was used in 206 of the cases investigated, officials said.