The New York City Police Department is under fire after a forceful arrest of a Staten Island man led to his death on Thursday (July 17). Eric Garner, 43, was apprehended by four officers. In a video that has since gone viral, one officer is seen with his forearm around Garner’s neck as he is taken to the ground. He died shortly after.
Garner was approached by two officers for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. In the video, when approached, the Staten island man can be heard saying “leave me alone” before an officer moves in to cuff him. Garner, who was 6-foot-3 and about 350 pounds, was then placed in a chokehold by an officer who led him to the ground. While down, Garner can be heard in the video telling the NYPD officers that he “can’t breathe.”
Chokeholds are a violation of NYPD’s policy during arrests. The officer who placed his arm around Garner’s neck, Daniel Pantaleo, has been stripped of his gun and badge pending investigation of the situation, according to the New York Daily News. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio pushed his travel plans to Italy back one day to be on hand. He called the incident “very troubling.”
Reverend Al Sharpton has spoken out about the tragedy, saying that the NYPD’s course of action against Pantaleo will be telling.
"This is going to be a real test to see where policies are in the city now and whether the change that we feel occurred has occurred," he said. "We are the only ones in the social setup that has to deal with fear of cops and robbers."
Watch the video of Eric Garner’s arrest below. Read the full report here.