Eric Garner, an asthmatic father of six from Staten Island, died last week after NYPD officers put him in a chokehold and forcibly held him to the ground. The police report written by the NYPD immediately following Garner's death makes no mention of police using a chokehold maneuver, which has been banned by the department for 20 years.
The report was written Thursday evening after Garner's arrest in Staten Island for "refusing to obey directions." Officers had accused Garner of illegally selling cigarettes.
The New York Daily News obtained the report, in which several officers downplayed the distress Garner was clearly under while being handled by the police. The entire altercation was caught on video by a witness.
Sgt. Dhanan Saminath told interviewers that the 43-year-old cigarette peddler was in cuffs with cops "maintaining control of him" and that he "did not appear to be in great distress," the preliminary report obtained by the Daily News shows.
Sgt. Kizzy Adonis told investigators probing the death that "the perpetrator's condition did not seem serious and that he did not appear to get worse."
Soon after he was placed in a chokehold, Garner went into cardiac arrest. He was taken to Richmond University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Chokeholds have been illegal in the New York Police Department since 1994. Mayor Bill de Blasio delayed his vacation to Italy by one day last week to make a statement about the case. "Like so many New Yorkers I was very troubled by the video," de Blasio said at a press conference on Friday.
According to the New York Times, the Civilian Complaint Review Board reported that punishment is rare for NYPD officers who used chokeholds on suspects.
From the Times:
But in two cases of chokeholds, in 2009 and in 2010, the department under Raymond W. Kelly, then commissioner, declined altogether to pursue an administrative trial, effectively deciding not to discipline the officer.
In three cases, from 2009 to 2011, officers were issued "instructions" by Mr. Kelly, a designation that amounts to retraining on the rules. One officer retired before a judgment could be ruled, and two cases from 2013 are still pending a decision in an administrative trial.
Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer responsible for putting Garner in a chokehold, was stripped of his gun and badge after the incident. A second officer, Justin Damico, was put on desk duty but will retain his gun and badge.
[Image via AP]