July 17, 2014: Eric Garner is murdered by NYPD officers using an illegal chokehold.
At approximately 3:30 p.m., Garner was approached by an undercover police officer, Justin Damico, in front of a beauty supply store at 202 Bay Street in Tompkinsville, Staten Island. According to bystanders — including Ramsey Orta, a friend of Garner’s who recorded the incident on his cell phone — Garner had just broken up a fight, which may have drawn the attention of the police. Garner may also have been selling “loosies” (single cigarettes without a tax stamp) in violation of New York state law.
Garner is heard on the video saying:
“Get away for what? Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today. Why would you…? Everyone standing here will tell you I didn’t do nothing. I did not sell nothing. Because every time you see me, you want to harass me. You want to stop me selling cigarettes. I’m minding my business, officer, I’m minding my business. Please just leave me alone. I told you the last time, please just leave me alone.”
When Pantaleo approached Garner from behind and attempted to handcuff him, Garner swatted his arms away, saying, “Don’t touch me, please.”
Pantaleo then put Garner in a chokehold from behind, which is prohibited by NYPD regulations.
Pantaleo then pulled Garner backward in an attempt to bring him to the ground; in the process, Pantaleo and Garner slammed into a glass window, which did not break.
As Garner was being brought to the ground, other uniformed officers surrounded him. Garner went to his knees and forearms and did not say anything for a few seconds. At that point, three uniformed officers and the two undercover officers had surrounded him.
After 15 seconds, the video showed Pantaleo had removed his arm from around Garner’s neck; Pantaleo then used his hands to push Garner’s face into the sidewalk.
Garner is heard saying “I can’t breathe” 11 TIMES while lying facedown on the sidewalk.
The arrest was supervised by a female African American NYPD sergeant, Kizzy Adoni, who did not intercede. Adoni was quoted in the original police report as stating, “The perpetrator’s condition did not seem serious and he did not appear to get worse.”
Garner lay motionless, handcuffed, and unresponsive for several minutes before an ambulance arrived, as shown in a second video.
After Garner lost consciousness, officers turned him onto his side to ease his breathing.
Garner remained lying on the sidewalk for seven minutes while the officers waited for an ambulance to arrive.
Other than one officer who told the then-unconscious Garner to “breathe in, breathe out,” the police made no attempt to resuscitate Garner. The police defended their decision not to perform CPR on Garner because they stated that he was still breathing and that it would have been improper to do CPR on someone who was breathing on his own.
When an ambulance arrived on scene, two medics and two EMTs inside the ambulance did not administer any emergency medical aid or promptly place him on a stretcher.
According to police, Garner had a heart attack while being transported to Richmond University Medical Center.
He was pronounced dead at the hospital one hour later.
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