Pantaleo, who killed Garner with a choke-hold, shown left
New York City’s Medical Examiner has officially ruled a homicide the choke-hold killing of Eric Garner an unarmed Staten Island resident by police officer Daniel Pantaleo.
Pantaleo and other NYPD officers had encountered Garner on the streets in broad daylight July 17 in front of several witnesses one of whom recorded the entire encounter.
The choke-hold killed Garner, the Medical Examiner said.
In a statement released after the announcement of the ME’s ruling State Assembly Karim Camara said New York’s problems go beyond the NYPD’s “broken windows” policing strategy.
The ME said Garner died due to “compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.”
Garner was shown insisting to the officers that he had not been selling loose cigarettes and demanding that he be left alone and that the officers were always harassing him. Pantaleo then placed Garner on a choke-hold from behind. He was never told he was being arrested.
One version of the video also shows that the officers and EMS personnel who arrived on the scene did not attempt to revive Garner even when he appeared unconscious or possibly already dead.
There has been widespread public outrage and even demands that Mayor Bill de Blasio fire Police Commissioner William Bratton who is a champion of a “broken windows” police strategy that promotes aggressive policing against minor incidents such as turnstile jumping. Critics believe that the strategy encourages incidents such as the one that led to Garner’s killing.
“On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest sympathies to the family of Eric Garner, on this day we have received the Medical Examiner’s findings concerning the cause of his death,” Mayor de Blasio said, in a statement released this afternoon. “My administration will continue to work with all involved authorities, including the Richmond County District Attorney, to ensure a fair and justified outcome.”
De Blasio added: “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—and that’s a responsibility that Commissioner Bratton and I take very seriously. I’ve said that we would make change, and we will. As Mayor, I remain absolutely committed to ensuring that the proper reforms are enacted to ensure that this won’t happen again.”
“Those who saw the video already knew that the police played a direct role in the death of Mr. Garner,” said Karim Camara, New York State Assemblyman and Chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus. “It’s now more important than ever that justice is done and that this case in not simply swept under the rug under the cover of ‘retraining.’ For real justice to be served, police who break that law must be held accountable to the fullest degree. It’s imperative that District Attorney Dan Donovan take the medical examiner’s findings into account when determining potential charges.”
He added: “As an elected official I have the opportunity to frequently interact with New York City police officers. I know and have witnessed the courage and dedication particularly of the officers of the 69th, 70th, 71st, 77th Precincts. However, the perspective that officers unnecessarily harass, hurt kill young people of color is common amongst residents of urban centers. It’s vital that the New York City Police Department look inward at this time and begin rebuilding trust between police and communities of color. The failure of the New City Police Department to look at how it is reflected in the community, from flawed strategies to frayed relationships, is an indicator that the problem is not just a challenge of fixing ‘broken windows’ in the community, but must begin with the NYPD fixing its ‘broken mirrors’.”