Eric Garner

Eric Garner Family

Eric Garner (September 15, 1970 – July 17, 2014) had been employed as a horticulturist at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Garner was a 350-pound (160 kg), 43-year-old, 6’3″ asthmatic African American man. He has been described by his friends as a “neighborhood peacemaker” and as a generous, congenial person. He had six children. Garner had been previously arrested and was out on bail for selling untaxed cigarettes, driving without a license, marijuana possession and false personation.

On July 17, 2014, in Staten Island, New York, United States, Eric Garner died of a heart-attack after being placed in a choke-hold by an officer. Garner previously had been arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes. When a police officer attempted to arrest Garner, he had broken up a fight which brought additional police units to the scene. He was approached by police officer Justin Damico. A New York City Police Department officer, Daniel Pantaleo, put Garner on the ground by the use of force, which included the use of a headlock, backed by video evidence of the event. Garner died some minutes later. NYPD Union leader Patrick Lynch challenged that chokehold claim.

Daniel Pantaleo
Daniel Pantaleo is a New York City Police Department officer who at the time of Garner’s death, had eight years of law enforcement experience, was 29 years old, and living in Eltingville, Staten Island. Pantaleo was the subject of two civil rights lawsuits in 2013 where plaintiffs accused Pantaleo of falsely arresting them and abusing them.

On July 17, 2014, at 4:45 p.m., Eric Garner was approached by a plainclothes police officer, Justin Damico, in front of a beauty supply store at 202 Bay Street in the Thompsonville neighborhood in Staten Island. After telling the police officers, “I was just minding my own business. Every time you see me you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today!” Garner raised both his arms in the air and was then put in a chokehold from behind by officer Daniel Pantaleo, in order to be subdued. While Garner repeatedly stated he was not able to breathe, other officers struggled to bring him down onto the sidewalk and have him put his arms behind his back. The video shows officer Pantaleo using his hands to push Garner’s face into the sidewalk. Garner died a few minutes later.

The video also showed that police waited seven minutes before giving Garner cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Use of the chokehold has been prohibited by New York City Police Department policy since 1993.

Garner’s death was recorded by Ramsey Orta, a friend of Garner’s.

Eric Garner Poster

The final autopsy report in Garner’s death showed that Garner did not have any drugs or alcohol in his system and had no head trauma. The New York Times reported that the autopsy suggested his obesity and health problems caused his fatal heart attack.

On August 1, 2014, medical examiners concluded that police conduct was the primary cause of Garner’s death and Garner’s heart problems, obesity and asthma were cited as additional factors. As a result of Garner’s death, fourEMTs and paramedics who responded to Garner’s death were suspended without pay on July 21, 2014, and officers Justin Damico and Daniel Pantaleo were placed on desk duty, the latter stripped of his service gun and badge. The event stirred public protests and rallies with charges of police brutality and was broadcast nationally over various media networks.

Three weeks after recording his friend’s arrest on his cell phone, Ramsey Orta was arrested on weapons charges, possibly causing a conflict of interest for the prosecutor. One week after, Orta’s wife was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault.

On July 20, 2014, the officer who grabbed Garner by the neck, Daniel Pantaleo, was put on desk duty and stripped of his service handgun and badge. Officer Justin Damico was allowed to keep his badge and handgun but was placed on desk duty. Four of the EMTs and paramedics who responded to Garner after he was put in a chokehold were suspended without pay on July 21, while the hospital they worked at, Richmond University Medical Center, conducted its own investigation into the incident. The two paramedics have since been returned to their regular duties.

Garner’s death was found by the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office to be a result of compression to the neck, compression to the body, and prone positioning, along with asthma, heart disease and obesity as contributing factors. On August 1, the medical examiner’s spokesperson, Julie Bolcer, announced that Garner’s death has been ruled a homicide.

As of October 26, 2014 a Grand Jury has been convened and is presently hearing evidence prior to deliberating whether to file charges against Officer Pantaleo. “Grand Jury Begins Hearing Evidence In Eric Garner Case”.

As of December 3, 2014 the Staten Island Grand Jury decided to not indict white police officer Daniel Pantaleo. “N.Y. cop not indicted in choke hold death”.

Public Reaction
Al Sharpton organized a peaceful protest in Staten Island on the afternoon of July 19, and condemned the police’s use of the chokehold on Garner, saying that “there is no justification” for it.

On July 29, 2014, a protest was held in Times Square, organized by WalkRunFly Productions and poet Daniel J. Watts. The protest was in the form of poetry and many Broadway entertainers participated in the event. Al Sharpton originally planned to lead a protest on August 23, in which participants will drive over the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge, then travel to the site of the altercation and the office of District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan, Jr. This idea was scrapped in favor of Sharpton leading a peaceful march along Bay Street in Staten Island, where Garner died; police estimated that over 2,500 people participated in the march.

As a result of Eric Garner’s death, Police Commissioner William Bratton ordered an extensive review of the NYPD’s training procedures after Garner’s death, specifically focusing on the appropriate amount of force that can be used while detaining a suspect.

A funeral was held for Garner on July 23, 2014, at Bethel Baptist Church in Brooklyn. At the funeral, Al Sharpton gave a speech calling for harsher punitive measures to be taken against the officers responsible for putting Garner in the chokehold.
UPDATE 12-3-2014
This isn’t the first time ‪‎Eric Garner‬’s killer NYPD‬ Officer Daniel Pantaleo has been accused of egregious conduct. Pantaleo was accused of falsely arresting and humiliating two men. After searching the men illegally, he “forced them to pull their pants and underwear down in public, squat and cough.” The City was forced to pay the victims of Pantaleo’s outrageous conduct $30,000 – $15,000 each.
UPDATE 12-3-2014
United States Department of Justice will launch a full, thorough and expeditious civil rights investigation.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced earlier tonight that The United States Department of Justice will launch a full, thorough and expeditious civil rights investigation into the fatal police choking of ‪#‎EricGarner‬. ‪#‎NYPD‬ officers allege Garner was selling untaxed loose cigarettes when they approached him. Garner’s last words were “I can’t breathe,” he said it 11 times.

The NYPD has come under fire for its use of the discriminatory ‪#‎BrokenWindows‬ policing tactic, or the hyper-aggressive enforcement of non-violent, low level offenses, such as illegal cigarette distribution.
UPDATE 12-3-2014
Eric Garner Chokehold Case, Grand Jury Refuses to Charge N.Y.P.D. Officer

The decision was reached on Wednesday after months of testimony including from the officer who used the chokehold, Daniel Pantaleo. Mr. Garner died after the violent confrontation.

A grand jury voted not to indict New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner.

Pantaleo put 47-year-old Garner into a chokehold during an arrest for selling untaxed cigarettes on July 17. In a viral video of the arrest, Garner can be seen screaming “I can’t breathe!” multiple times until his body goes limp. A medical examiner later ruled his death a homicide.

Chokeholds are banned by NYPD guidelines, and Garner’s death prompted large protests across the city.

The grand jury’s decision Wednedsay comes just over a week after a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, declined to indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.


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