AFRICANGLOBE – Eric Garner’s death by chokehold was a homicide.
The Staten Island man who collapsed after being placed in the banned restraint by a police officer died from compression of the neck and chest, the New York City Medical Examiner ruled Friday.
The 43-year-old victim’s asthma, obesity and high blood pressure were also contributing factors in his death, the autopsy determined.
It was the latest development in a case that sparked national outrage after the video was published showing Officer Daniel Pantaleo putting Eric Garner in the chokehold.
Eric Garner’s widow said she was relieved that the ME confirmed what had been suspected for weeks.
“Thank God the truth is finally out,” Esaw Garner said. “Thank God for that.”
Garner was Black. Pantaleo is White. And the incident has roiled relations between the police and Black residents on Staten Island.
Mayor de Blasio, who was elected on a promise to make the NYPD more responsive to minority communities, said he was “absolutely committed to ensuring that the proper reforms are enacted to ensure that this won’t happen again.”
“We all have a responsibility to work together to heal the wounds from decades of mistrust and create a culture where the police department and the communities they protect respect each other,” he said in a statement.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, who a day earlier pointedly told the mayor his biracial son could be “a candidate for a chokehold,” held his fire at the ME’s announcement.
“We’re reviewing it and we’ll be announcing tomorrow what course of action we’ll be taking after we meet tonight,” he told reporters.
In a terse statement, the Staten Island District Attorney’s office said it had been in touch with the ME.
“We await the issuance of the official death certificate and the autopsy report,” it said. “The investigation into Mr. Garner’s death continues.”
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the NYPD would continue cooperating with Staten Island prosecutors, who are “the lead investigative entity in this case.”
Meanwhile, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association expressed condolences — but said Eric Garner was partly to blame for his murder.
“We believe, however, that if he had not resisted the lawful order of the police officers placing him under arrest, this tragedy would not have occurred,” the PBA said in a statement.
Daniel Pantaleo and another officer were pulled from their anti-crime unit and placed on desk duty after Eric Garner’s death. He could not be reached for comment.
Eric Garner met his end July 17 while being harassed after breaking up a fight.
“I can’t breathe,” the 350-pound father of six said repeatedly as he was taken down by the cops.
The NYPD banned chokeholds in 1994 after a Bronx man named Anthony Baez was murdered by an officer who placed him in one.
In the wake of Eric Garner’s death, Bratton ordered that the NYPD’s 35,000 officers be retrained in the proper use of force when subduing a suspect.
By: Barry Paddock And Corky Siemaszko