Moral Low Ground

Society

Video: NYPD Cops Kill Father of 6 Eric Garner for ‘Crime’ of Selling Untaxed Cigarettes

New York City police officers ignored an asthmatic man’s desperate pleas as they choked him and slammed his head into the ground for the alleged crime of selling untaxed cigarettes, triggering a heart attack that killed the father of six on Thursday.

The New York Daily News has obtained video of the disturbing incident which shows 43-year-old Eric Garner, a 400-pound (181 kg) asthmatic man, begging NYPD officers to let him breathe as he lies helplessly on a Tompkinsville, Staten Island sidewalk after being tackled by four policemen who approached him for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes around 5:00 p.m. on Thursday.

When approached by undercover officers, Garner denied selling anything.

“Every time you see me you want to mess with me,” Garner told the officers. “I’m tired of it. It stops today.”

The video shows Garner then refusing to comply with an order to place his hands behind his back. He politely asks officers not to touch him before four of them rush in to take him down. Garner is then placed in a chokehold and his head is slammed into the sidewalk.

As five officers pile on the downed man, he repeatedly tells them he cannot breathe. He is then quiet, dead from a heart attack.

Witnesses said Garner wasn’t selling anything and had attracted police attention because he intervened to break up a fight.

Valencia Griffin saw that fight between two men outside a beauty supply shop on Bay Street. Griffin said Garner tried to play peacemaker.

“He tried to break up the fight. The two guys fighting, they saw the cops coming and walked away,” Griffin told SI Live.

“The cops slammed him to the ground and threw the handcuffs on him,” witness Taisha Allen told SI Live. “I saw saliva and blood coming out the side of his mouth. It was awful that something like this had to happen.”

Those who knew Garner called him a “gentle giant” and a “big teddy bear.”

“Everybody that knows him will tell you that he’s a wonderful person,” 64-year-old Charlene Thomas, who worked in a deli near the site of the incident, said of the victim.

“When I kissed my husband this morning, I never thought it would be for the last time,” Garners’ wife Esaw told the Daily News.

(Family photo)

(Family photo)

NYPD later said Garner, who also has two grandchildren, has been previously arrested for selling illegal cigarettes. The department claimed the suspect resisted arrest.

The Rev. Lloyd Land of the local First United Christian Church called Garner’s death senseless.

“He doesn’t drink liquor. He doesn’t do drugs. What he does is he sells cigarettes,” Land told SI Live. “He sells cigarettes, 50 cents a piece. That’s how he makes a living.”

A detective from the NYPD Internal Affairs Division reportedly apologized to Esaw Garner, who claims he told her his office was involved “because there was wrongdoing.”

NYPD officials confirmed Thursday night that Internal Affairs had launched an investigation of the incident.

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