The New York Police Department’s report of a man’s controversial death last Thursday, apparently caused by an officer’s illegal chokehold, failed to actually include the word “chokehold,’’ according to news reports.
This runs counter to video of the incident, which showed an officer employing what sure looks like a chokehold while the man, Eric Garner, complained of being unable to breathe.
The police report instead said that Garner, 43, “resisted arrest’’ and “went into cardiac arrest,’’ but that “the perpetrator did not appear to be in great distress,’’ reported The New York Daily News.
Another officer on the scene wrote in a report that “the perpetrator’s condition did not seem serious and that he did not appear to get worse’’ before adding, somewhat contradictively, that Garner said “he was having difficulty breathing.’’
The NYPD officially banned chokeholds in 1994.
The apparent chokehold was used on Garner, of Staten Island, after police claim he was peddling untaxed cigarettes. The father of six had reportedly been arrested on multiple occasions for that same offense.
After Garner maintained his innocence and said “Don’t touch me, please,’’ seemingly refusing to place his hands behind his back as police attempted to handcuff him, an officer locked his arms around Garner’s neck.
After Garner was taken down to the ground while he was still in the apparent chokehold, he can be heard on video gasping several times, repeating “I can’t breathe.’’ Garner, who reportedly stood six feet, three inches tall and weighed 350 pounds, suffered from asthma and diabetes.
A preliminary autopsy found that little damage was done to Garner’s neck and trachea.
New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio said in response to the video: “As an individual who’s no expert in law enforcement, it looked like a chokehold to me.’’
New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton said Friday he also thought it appeared to be a chokehold.
Daniel Pantaleo, who CNN said was the officer choking Garner on the video, has since been stripped of his gun and badge and placed on administrative duty. Another officer was allowed to keep his gun and badge but was also put on desk duty.
The city’s fire department followed suit by suspending the four emergency workers who responded to the incident without pay.
At least two rallies have been staged in New York City, including one in Staten Island that drew hundreds of people chanting “120’s gotta go,’’ referring to the police precinct where the officers in question are assigned.
The video of the entire episode, which is graphic, can be seen here.