By now, most readers in New York and, indeed, people across the country are aware of the tragic death of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old father of six who lived on Staten Island. Last Thursday, Garner apparently broke up a fight. As cellphone video taken by a passerby shows, five NYPD officers then confronted Garner, accusing him of selling loose cigarettes.
Garner insisted he had sold nothing. He complained that he’d been repeatedly harassed by the NYPD over offenses he didn’t commit. He reportedly told the officers, “Every time you see me you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today.”
He was right. When the officers attempted to cuff him he pulled away, so several officers wrestled him to the ground. Then, one cop put him in a choke hold -- a tactic that has been prohibited by NYPD policy since 1983 because it’s just too dangerous. Garner, who suffered from asthma, repeatedly complained that he couldn’t breathe, but he was ignored. He died on the sidewalk.