A video has emerged of police killing a 400-pound asthmatic man after putting him in a chokehold while attempting to arrest him on Thursday.
The video shows an NYPD plain-clothes officer confronting Eric Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, outside a Staten Island beauty supply store. Soon after Garner objects to being handcuffed — telling the officer not to touch him — another officer puts him in a chokehold. Several other officers quickly descend on him and push him to the ground, slamming his head on the concrete.
Garner says, "I can't breathe!" over and over as police continue to hold him down. Soon after, he stops speaking.
"They jumped him and they were choking him. He was foaming at the mouth," Ramsey Orta, the man who shot the video, told the New York Daily News. "And that's it, he was done. The cops were saying, 'No, he's okay, he's okay.' He wasn't okay."
"They were choking him. He kept saying, 'I can't breathe, I can't breathe! Get off of me, get off of me! I didn't hear any more talking after that," eyewitness Valencia Griffin told The New York Daily News. "He died right there."
The NYPD said in a statement Friday that Garner had a heart attack when police attempted to arrest him, and that they were opening up an investigation into his cause of death. Police allegedly were trying to arrest Garner for selling untaxed cigarettes, although eyewitnesses said it was because he was seen trying to break up a fight.
Garner had been arrested for selling the cigarettes before, according to police, with his most recent arrest in May.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has promised an investigation, expressed his condolences on Twitter today.
On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest condolences to the family of Eric Garner.— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) July 18, 2014
Photo via Wikimedia