Eric Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, died July 17, 2014 after a confrontation with police. On that day, Garner was approached by NYPD officers for allegedly selling illegal cigarettes. He had been arrested previously for selling untaxed cigarettes. Video of the incident shows Garner holding his hands in the air and telling officers not to touch him. Only seconds later, an officer grabs him from behind, placing him in a chokehold and pulling him to the sidewalk. Some contend that Garner was put in a headlock, and that a chokehold was never used.
Four additional officers restrained Garner, and as he lies on his stomach, he repeatedly gasps, “I can’t breathe!” The video footage continues as it shows the 350-pound asthmatic Garner lying on the ground, not moving. Later, at a nearby hospital, he was proclaimed dead. Law enforcement reports that he had a heart attack and died on the way to the hospital.
The officer, Daniel Pantaleo, who is seen in the video choking Garner, was placed on modified assignment and stripped of his badge and gun while NYPD investigated the incident. The chokehold maneuver is not permitted by the New York Police Department and many feel this maneuver was the cause of Eric Garner’s death.
Police have argued that prior to his passing out, they had no reason to believe Garner was in grave danger. The officers assumed that as long as he could talk, he must also be able to breathe. After Garner passed out, the officers did not perform CPR on him because they claim he was still breathing. Approximately one hour later at the hospital, Garner was pronounced dead.
Medical examiners would later conclude that Garner died from neck and chest compression and prone positioning while being restrained physically by police.
Law enforcement officers are permitted to use force, and under appropriate conditions, both their superiors and the public expect them to do so. Issues arise, however, when that force becomes unwarranted brutality. Defined as the malicious use of excessive force, police brutality is typically thought of as physical in nature. However, verbal attacks and psychological intimidation are also considered forms of police brutality.
Widespread police brutality exists all over the world, even in countries where it is prosecuted, and it is certainly nothing new in the United States. Police brutality was in the American press as early as 1872, when the Chicago Tribune reported the beating of a man under arrest at a police station.
According to information released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, at least 4,813 people died during the process of being arrested by police between 2003 and 2009.
Boulder Criminal Defense Lawyers
If you or someone you love has had your rights violated by the police, we can help. Our criminal defense attorneys can review your case and build the best defense against your charges. If your rights were violated during the arrest process, you may be able to have the charges against you dismissed all together. Contact the Boulder criminal defense lawyers at Steven Louth Law Offices today for a free consultation and review of your case. Call us at (303) 422-2297 to start building a solid defense against these serious criminal charges.