Don’t get me wrong. The death of Eric Garner during his arrest in New York City on July 17, 2014 was a tragedy on many levels. I’m sorry for the loss his family has had to endure. However, in my opinion, laying the blame for his death on Officer Daniel Pantaleo is a travesty.
I’ve studied the Ramsey Orta video that shows the alleged chokehold, which didn’t start out as a chokehold but ended with Pantaleo’s arm across Garner’s throat as the two impacted the sidewalk and Garner continued to resist arrest. Seven seconds elapsed from the time of the grab to the release, when Pantaleo climbed off Garner and pressed his head to the ground (with both hands) while four other officers piled on to subdue the 6’2”, 395 pound Garner and apply the handcuffs. This is when Garner cried out, “I can’t breathe,” PROOF Pantaleo’s so-called chokehold did NOT kill him. He was alive, conscious, and breathing well enough to cry out eleven times. An ambulance was called immediately, and the responding medics determined he was suffering cardiac arrest. It’s highly likely that he couldn’t breathe because his heart couldn’t take the strain of the scuffle that he started.
The New York City Medical Examiner found no external injuries to Garner’s neck, but there were internal telltale signs of choking (strap muscle hemorrhages in the neck and petechial hemorrhages in the eyes), so he listed the causes of death as “compression of the neck (chokehold), compression of the chest, and prone positioning during physical restraint by police” and the manner of death a “homicide” (death caused by another person or persons) and contributing factors: asthma, heart disease, and obesity. All the public and press heard was the word “chokehold.” Pantaleo’s seven-second chokehold took precedent over every other cause of death.
The outcry from the family and the community for Pantaleo to be prosecuted for homicide, the protests in the streets: “I can’t breathe,” their battle cry, created an atmosphere of mob mentality and civil unrest. A grand jury and the Department of Justice found no grounds for criminally charging Pantaleo for his actions. Still, the department suspended him, and the city paid Garner’s family a $5.9 Million settlement. However, the cry for ‘justice’ persisted. The family wanted Pantaleo fired for causing Garner’s death and called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to get that justice. Because Bill de Blasio was running for the Democratic nomination for President, the case entered the political arena. During a debate, he promised the family that justice was coming soon. On August 2, 2019, an NYPD disciplinary hearing judge recommended Pantaleo be fired (the politically correct thing to do), so de Blasio pressured the police chief (the ultimate decider) to fire him, which he did on August 19, 2019, ending the career of a police officer who was doing his job in the service of his city when a suspected criminal resisted arrest.
So here I stand at the pig trough of American justice, thankful for the police who protect us, though I wonder why they even bother. NYPD. Shame on you for buckling under political pressure to do the wrong thing. Oink!!! Oink!!!