You can hear Eric Garner, 43, shouting, “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” as, at least five, NYPD cops wrestle him on the ground in front of a beauty supply store in the Tompkinsville section of Staten Island. Earlier in the video, Garner appears to be being questioned by an officer about the illegal sale of cigarettes after, he says, he broke up a fight in the area. The scene turned ugly, however, when the officer attempted to handcuff Garner.
Garner balked and was quickly placed in a chokehold by one officer and wrestled to the ground as four more piled on. Within moments, Garner – a married father of six – stopped struggling and appeared unconscious.
“When I kissed my husband this morning, I never thought it would be for the last time,” Garner’s wife, Esaw, told the Daily News. According to an NYPD spokesman, Garner “was being placed in custody, went into cardiac arrest and died.”
On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Garner, who died yesterday afternoon while being placed in police custody. We have a responsibility to keep every New Yorker safe, and that includes when individuals are in custody of the NYPD. That is a responsibility that Police Commissioner Bratton and I take very seriously. We are harnessing all resources available to the City to ensure a full and thorough investigation of the circumstances of this tragic incident. The NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is working closely with the Office of the Richmond County District Attorney, which is leading this investigation.
Still, members of the New York City activist community are organizing to ensure that the case is properly handled and that justice is served. The Garner family will join Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action Network Saturday in a rally to demand a full investigation into the death.