Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Funeral To Be Held For Staten Island Man Who Died In Police Custody
People call for justice in the policy killing of Eric Garner.
July 23, 2014 7:49 AM

NEW YORK (CBS NewYork/AP) – A wake and funeral will be held Wednesday for a Staten Island man who died while in police custody.

Demonstrators marched through the streets on Tuesday to demand swift justice for Eric Garner.

“It ends today,” the crowd of Garner’s relatives, friends and local elected officials chanted as they walked from a Staten Island park across from where police confronted him last Thursday to the precinct where the officers involved were stationed.

An amateur video of Garner’s arrest shows an officer putting him in an apparent chokehold after he refuses to be handcuffed.

The tactic is banned by the NYPD, but has been the subject of more than 1,000 complaints to the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board over the last five years.

Garner’s sister, Ellisha Flagg, said at a vigil at Tompkinsville Park that the chokehold likely exacerbated the effects of the 6-foot-3, 350-pound Garner’s asthma, a condition he battled since childhood.

“My brother even respected the police all the way to the end,” she said. “He still has his hands up in the air. He even allowed them to take his breath and didn’t fight back.”

Police were arresting Garner on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes.

The video of the arrest shows an officer putting his arm around Garner’s neck as Garner is taken to the ground and his face is pushed into the sidewalk. Garner, before losing consciousness, is heard yelling repeatedly, “I can’t breathe!”

Autopsy results are pending in Garner’s death. Police officials said Garner died while being transported to the hospital, but that a preliminary investigation shows no damage to his windpipe.

In the wake of his death, two paramedics and two emergency medical technicians who responded to the call were suspended without pay pending the investigation, Richmond University Medical Center said.

Two police officers on the case have also been placed on modified duty. Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who appeared to have put Garner in the chokehold, surrendered his gun and badge.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Tuesday the police department would retrain its officers on the use of force.

“The department needs to do a lot more in terms of training,” Bratton said at a news conference.

“A top to bottom review of all of the training that this department provides to its personel, specifically focusing on use of force.”

That training includes sending a team of officers next week to Los Angeles, where Bratton served as commissioner for seven years, to learn how that city’s police department modified its use-of-force protocols after several high-profile episodes of brutality.

Bratton also said multiple investigations were underway in Garner’s death and more are expected.

A criminal investigation already has been launched by the Staten Island District Attorney’s Office, along with an internal police investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau.

Bratton also said Tuesday the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will also likely launch federal investigations.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, speaking at the Garner vigil Tuesday night, said she is determined to make sure his death is fully and quickly investigated.

“It’s difficult to avoid being overwhelmed by sadness, by anger and a deeply disturbing concern that we’ve all been here before,” she said.

Garner’s death has raised questions about the NYPD’s embrace of the “broken windows” theory of policing.

Critics say the theory, that low-grade lawlessness such as drinking in public and making graffiti can invite greater disorder including traffic fatalities and violent crime, can needlessly put nonviolent people at risk and fuel tensions in minority communities.

Such enforcement “leads to confrontations like this,” City Councilwoman Inez Barron said at a news conference about Garner’s death.

Bratton vowed to stick with the program, saying the NYPD plans to next target illegal vendors who rent bikes in Central Park.

He credited a similar crackdown on subway fare beaters in the 1990s with being the “tipping point” for a drastic reduction in overall crime in the subway trains.

Garner had been arrested 31 times since 1988 on charges including drug possession, assault and selling untaxed cigarettes, according to police.

He was facing two open untaxed-cigarette cases, plus a third case in which prosecutors dropped that charge but were still pursuing unlicensed driving and marijuana possession charges stemming from an August 2013 car stop, court records show.

He was fighting them all, his attorneys said.

In 2007, he filed a lawsuit against a NYPD cop charging his civil rights were violated during a strip search. The case was dismissed  because of a technicality. Garner had not updated the court with his current address.

Garner had a son starting college, five other children and two grandchildren. He had a couple of temporary jobs with the city Department of Parks and Recreation in recent years, most recently helping with horticulture crews and maintenance in 2013.

No comments: