In the video above, Eric Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, can be seen arguing with plainclothes NYPD officers on Staten Island. When the officers attempt to handcuff him, Garner asks them not to touch him, and one puts him in a chokehold. Several other officers pile on, slamming Garner into the ground, and he begins complaining that he can't breathe. Now, Eric Garner is dead.
Police allege they saw Garner selling illegal untaxed cigarettes, but witnesses at the scene say he was stopped because he broke up a fight. Either way, the psychological distress the encounter caused him is evident before the cops even lay their hands on him. "Every time you see me, you try to mess with me," he says to the cops at one point. "This stops today."
The New York Daily News spoke to Ramsey Orta, who shot the video, and another witness:
"They jumped him and they were choking him. He was foaming at the mouth," Orta told The News. "And that's it, he was done. The cops were saying, 'No, he's OK, he's OK." He wasn't OK."
"They were choking him. He kept saying, 'I can't breathe, I can't breathe! Get off of me, get off of me!' and I didn't hear any more talking after that," said witness Valencia Griffin, 50, of Staten Island. "He died right there."
The NYPD's Internal Affairs division is looking into the incident, according to the Daily News. One I.A. detective spoke with Garner's wife, telling her his office was investigating "because there is wrongdoing." And earlier today, Mayor de Blasio tweeted his condolences.
On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest condolences to the family of Eric Garner.
— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) July 18, 2014