On July 17, Eric Garner, a 43-year-old NY resident, was confronted by the NYPD for allegedly selling "untaxed" cigarettes.
Garner questioned the thugs officers about why he was being harassed. At least two witnesses filmed the incident, which clearly shows Daniel Pantaleo, one of the NYPD bullies, throw Garner into a chokehold – a move that was banned by the police force in 1993.
After Garner was choked and brought to the ground, he repeatedly said "I can't breathe! I can't breathe!" Yet, officers continued to hold him down.
Garner fell silent and paramedics were called.
While waiting for medical help to arrive, several officers stood over Garner but did not administer CPR.
Details of the incident are disturbing. As we reported on July 18:
Witnesses described what happened:
"They ran up on him and got rough right away. He wasn't fighting back," said witness Gordon Benson, 33.
"When he was on the ground, they kept holding him by the neck."
"They jumped him and they were choking him. He was foaming at the mouth," Ramsey Orta said. "And that's it, he was done. The cops were saying, 'No, he's OK, he's OK.' He wasn't OK."
"They were choking him. He kept saying, 'I can't breathe, I can't breathe! Get off of me, get off of me!' and I didn't hear any more talking after that," said witness Valencia Griffin, 50, of Staten Island. "He died right there."
As we reported on July 21, after the second witness video surfaced:
"Now they're trying to get him an ambulance, after they harassed and slammed him down," a woman taking the video says. "[The] NYPD harassing people for no reason, he didn't do anything at all."
"Why is no one doing CPR?" a witness at the scene asks.
"He's breathing," an officer responds back.
It is obvious to anyone who watches this video footage that Garner was dead (or very close to it) before paramedics arrived.
Garner was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at a Staten Island hospital.
In early August, the New York City medical examiner's office confirmed what many of us already knew.
The cause of Garner's death was "compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police," said Julie Bolcer, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office. The death was ruled a homicide.
Naturally, some officials claimed Garner's murder death was justified. One of those people is Pat Lynch, head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association (the largest union representing NY police officers). During a press conference, he said the following:
"This was not a chokehold. It was bringing a person to the ground, which we're trained to do, to put him under arrest. It was not a chokehold."
Oh, and Lynch called the chief medical examiner's report "one of the most political documents" he had ever seen.
But police commissioner Bill Bratton described the move as "an apparent chokehold."
Two officers and four emergency medical responders were were placed on modified duty following Garner's death.
On November 21, Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who placed Garner in a chokehold, testified in front of a 23-member grand jury that will decide if he will face criminal charges.
Justin D'Amico, Pantaleo's partner, testified earlier with the understanding that he had immunity from prosecution.
Some witness testimony has been reported by Silive.com, and it is quite damning:
The man said he told the group he had seen plainclothes officer Daniel Pantaleo in Tompkinsille Park, directly across from where Garner died, right before the incident.
The man claims he and Pantaleo saw Garner break up a fight between two men, and he said he thought Pantaleo was going to approach the two men before he saw him move in on Garner.
"I didn't know he was a cop because he was in a jersey. I think No. 99," the witness said. "I was standing with him in the street and saw Mr. Garner break up the fight. Then I saw the cops come down from Victory Boulevard and thought they were coming for the two guys. But they let the two guys go."
The witness told the jury he then saw Pantaleo spring into action and come up from behind Garner and put him in a chokehold. Pantaleo can be seen in viral video using the banned maneuver on Garner while attempting to arrest him for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes.
"Then all the officers charged in and I couldn't see what happened," the witness said. "I saw the EMS workers come down the block with the gurney. The next thing I saw was Mr. Garner on the gurney with his eyes wide open and tongue hanging out."
"I was a little nervous testifying," he said. "But I felt compelled to testify because Mr. Garner didn't deserve that treatment."
An employee of a store near the park testified, too:
"I told them I heard the banging at the window and saw the chokehold," he said. "I saw a female cop telling him (Pantaleo) to get off him."
He also told the jury the EMTs didn't do CPR, he said. The four emergency workers were suspended after the incident. Two paramedics were cleared following an investigation, and two EMTs have been temporarily reassigned on a non-clinical basis at Richmond University Medical Center.
"Maybe if someone had did CPR, this could've been avoided," he added.
Yesterday police commissioner Bratton met with elected officials and clergy members on Staten Island to discuss the possible reactions to the upcoming grand jury decision.
"There certainly will be increased police presence in the area, especially around the vicinity of where they anticipate demonstrations to be taking place, and that is something that I believe the NYPD is taking very seriously," said Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, whose district covers parts of Staten Island and Brooklyn.
A rally for Garner this summer drew thousands of protesters. While some businesses along the march route decided to close their doors that day, the demonstration was largely uneventful.
"The businesses that remained open actually got business, a lot of business, and it was just a peaceful demonstration. We're expecting the same thing," said City Councilwoman Debi Rose of Staten Island.
"Here on Staten Island, Eric Garner had a lot of friends, especially in that area, and he's very, very well missed by a lot of people who's anxiously waiting the decision," said Cynthia Davis of the National Action Network. "So I even think maybe some agitators may try to worm their way in and try to cause problems, but we're just praying and hoping that that doesn't happen."
The NYPD is reportedly preparing for an uprising, after being outgunned by protesters following the Ferguson case. NYPD detectives were sent to Missouri to gather intelligence on "professional agitators" who attend protests and to share strategies for quelling violence.
Protests are expected no matter what the grand jury's decision is, according to sources:
Those plans include assigning NYPD task force units to 12-hour shifts, sending in a large contingent of officers on scooters as well as on foot, and barricade units on standby along with mounted units and aviation.
Sources stressed, however, that the NYPD response to any future Eric Garner case protest will not be "heavy-handed" unless there is immediate damage to people or property. The watch words are "breathing room."
The grand jury decision is expected by the end of this year, but could be any day now.Facebook, Google Plus, & Twitter. You can also get Freedom Outpost delivered to your Amazon Kindle device here.