‘Chokehold’ death a homicide
NEW YORK (AP) – New Yorkers enraged by a man’s death in police custody see a medical examiner’s ruling that blames a prohibited chokehold as a clear indication the officers involved should face criminal charges.
“They killed somebody,” neighbour Charlene Thomas said after the city’s medical examiner deemed Eric Garner’s death a homicide. “Why? Because they’re cops, they gotta get away with this?”
Garner was killed by neck compressions from the chokehold and “the compression of his chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police”, city medical examiner spokeswoman Julie Bolcer said yesterday.
Ramsey Orta, a friend of Garner’s who videotaped his struggle with police, said the medical examiner’s ruling wasn’t surprising.
“I knew that was the cause because I saw it,” he said. “Now somebody should get charged.”
Asthma, heart disease and obesity were contributing factors in the death of the 43-year-old Garner, a 6-foot-3, 350-pound father of six, she said.
His videotaped arrest and final pleas of “I can’t breathe!” sparked outrage and led to the overhaul of use-of-force training for the nation’s largest police department.
The confrontation between the white police officer who used the chokehold, Daniel Pantaleo, and Garner, who is black, prompted calls by the Reverend Al Sharpton for a federal civil rights investigation.
Garner’s family will join Sharpton today to address the medical examiner’s ruling, a spokeswoman said.
The finding increases the likelihood that the case will be presented to a grand jury to determine whether Pantaleo or any other officers involved in the confrontation will face criminal charges.
Pantaleo’s attorney, Stuart London, declined to comment.
Garner’s wife, Esaw Garner, told the Daily News, “Thank God the truth is finally out.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio extended his sympathies to Garner’s family in a statement and pledged to continue repairing the relationship between minority communities and the New York Police Department.