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Why we’re not pontificating on Eric Garner tonight

Why we’re not pontificating on Eric Garner tonight

To follow the facts, first you have to know the facts.

It’s very tempting to jump to conclusions in either direction about the Eric Garner Grand Jury non-indictment of one of the arresting police officers.

It would be really, really easy to jump on the “injustice” bandwagon, with a visceral reaction to the video.  Or to take the contrarian view because there was, after all, resistance to a lawful arrest.  No resistance, no death.

In fact, we’ve gone through multiple drafts trying to sort this out.

But none of them worked because we just don’t know enough about the evidence to determine whether the death of Garner was the result of an unlawful homicide, or just a tragic confluence of resisting arrest, health problems and lawful use of force by police.

I think we’ve done well in the many criminal cases we’ve followed — George Zimmerman, Michael Dunn, Joseph Walker, Michael Brown, Theodore Wafer, Merritt Landry, and others.  In fact, I think we’ve done better than well, because we always followed the evidence.

We have the video, or at least one or two of the angles, but we just don’t have enough … yet.

I want to understand this case better. That may take a day, a week, a month, or never.

There are plenty of opinions, but at least for tonight, you won’t find them here.


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I certainly don’t want to jump to conclusions, but wasn’t the chokehold specifically prohibited for just these sort of reasons? Not that I’d expect different either way. NYC takes care of its own.

    Midwest Rhino in reply to Sian. | December 3, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    The hold was not illegal, but was against NYPD policy (per O’Reilly).

    A NY lawyer on Megyn thought his family would get big money in a civil suit, but that it was not necessarily a crime. While he said he couldn’t breathe, he was still talking.

    Perhaps once on the ground they could have eased up (and that lawyer thought they did to some extent). It is hard to say if a normal person would have been just fine and this was mostly routine for someone resisting, and only his several complications led to his demise, or if the cops were somehow more responsible.

    The cops did not seem to have any extra aggression or anger, they even seemed to make sure his head did not smack down on the concrete.

    We do know what the grand jury decided, needing only 12 I think. So I’m satisfied with that decision and will not protest (or loot or burn).

      Right, I mean, it’s not unheard of for someone to die from the stress of resisting arrest, and taking his weight into consideration and all well, yeah, my point was that without the chokehold, it would be a lot easier to argue. It’s all about impressions and feelings over facts these days.

      rokiloki in reply to Midwest Rhino. | December 4, 2014 at 4:19 pm

      I think a civil suit could succeed if the family can prove negligence and not necessarily criminal violations.

      perring O’Reilly could embarrass you

      Milhouse in reply to Midwest Rhino. | December 5, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      Choke holds are indeed lawful but against NYPD policy, but this was not a choke hold. There was no damage to the larynx or airways, so there could not have been any pressure on them. They’re using the term “choke hold” specifically in order to claim that the officer acted against policy, but the evidence shows he didn’t. Certainly his supervisor who was right there (and is a black woman) didn’t think at the time that he was doing anything wrong.

      And they did let him up as soon as they had him restrained.

    MattMusson in reply to Sian. | December 4, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Believe it or not – this was not a ‘choke hold’. And, he did not die because his airway was closed. It seems the struggle triggered his pre-existing medical (breathing) issues.

    But – he died because he was selling tobacco. If he had been selling pot – he would still be alive.

      Midwest Rhino in reply to MattMusson. | December 4, 2014 at 8:44 am

      Watching again I noticed how quickly he said “I can’t breathe”, even before he was all the way down. Makes me think his struggle was causing him to lose his breath, since he had asthma.

      Yeah, getting that $6/pack seems more important to NY policy than the “war on drugs”. But dopers at least try to hide their activity, this guy was in illegal sales on the street, with thirty something priors.

      I’d say he died from resisting, not from selling loosies. He knew better than any of them his own physical ailments, and getting in a tussle with several cops was a big mistake. With all those priors, he could have anticipated he was not up for a fight.

      Even Megyn said “this should not have been a death sentence” (paraphrased), but of course it was not that, which would imply intent. Many have said something similar, as if this was intentional. They had several guys there for the arrest, and the black female officer monitoring. If they couldn’t convince half the jury, why are talking heads throwing around “he didn’t deserve to die”, as if that was the NYPD intent?

        Milhouse in reply to Midwest Rhino. | December 5, 2014 at 3:13 pm

        It’s not about the taxes. So many people seem to be getting this wrong. The law against selling loosies has nothing at all to do with taxes. It applies just as much if somene buys a pack in NY, already taxed. In fact it’s aimed at retailers who have already paid tax on all their stock. Most people also seem unaware that it’s not just a NY state law, it’s also a FDA regulation that applies to the whole country.

      rokiloki in reply to MattMusson. | December 4, 2014 at 4:21 pm

      He did not die because he was selling cigarettes. He died because he became aggressive, resisted arrest, and had health problems.

    CJOffermann in reply to Sian. | December 4, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Just saw this> I don’t know if it has already been discussed. but it gives a new twist the whole thing:

    BREAKING: BLACK FEMALE Police Sergeant Supervised Eric Garner’s Deadly Arrest
    Lost in the racial outcry over the decision to not indict white police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Black petty criminal Eric Garner is the key fact that the attempt to arrest Garner was overseen by a Black female police sergeant.

    Black female Police sergeant Kizzy Adoni supervized the fatal arrest of Eric Garner.
    The Black female police sergeant is not shown in the countless replays in the media of cellphone footage that
    showed white male police officers confronting and taking down Garner but she is said to be seen in the video.
    From a police report reported by PIX11 in July, the sergeant’s name appears to be Kizzy Adoni.
    “Another female sergeant, Kizzy Adoni, made a similar statement in the report. She “believed she heard” Garner
    say he was having difficulty breathing. Adoni also said “The perpetrator’s condition did not seem serious and he
    did not appear to get worse.””
    There is no mention of Adoni in a Google News search of the latest reports on the Garner decision.
    There are very few mentions at all that a Black female sergeant oversaw the attempted arrest of Garner.
    NBC News in New York reported the sergeants at the scene were offered immunity for their testimony before
    the grand jury.
    “Pantaleo is the only NYPD member facing possible indictment. Others at the scene, including two sergeants,
    were offered immunity for their testimony to the grand jury.”
    Denis Hamill wrote at the New York Daily News that a federal civil rights case will likely be scuttled by the
    presence and oversight of Pantaleo’s actions by the Black female sergeant–who did not intervene in the attempted
    arrest. “Pantaleo who applied the lethal chokehold on Eric Garner was supervised by an African-American female NYPD sergeant.
    “Having that black sergeant in charge of that crime scene takes race out of the equation. As awful as Pantaleo’s actions appear on that video, at no time does that black sergeant order Pantaleo to stop choking Garner.
    …”Any chance of a federal civil rights case will be hampered by that African-American police sergeant’s presence.”
    Does Attorney General Eric Holder know?
    He just opened a civil rights investigation on Eric Garner’s death.

Shouldn’t we be asking what the probable cause was to arrest Garner?

    He was selling loose cigarettes, which cuts the state out of tobacco tax revenue. It’s clear why they’d want to crack down on that.

      citizenjeff in reply to Sian. | December 4, 2014 at 12:21 am

      He was selling loose cigarettes? When? Says who? I know he had a reputation for selling loose cigarettes, but why did the cops decide to arrest him at that particular time? Being aware of Brown’s reputation isn’t probable cause to arrest him.

        MattMusson in reply to citizenjeff. | December 4, 2014 at 8:12 am

        It seems that NYC has a zero tolerance policy toward tobacco because (wait for it)…

        tobacco is hazardous to your health.

        kgoettl in reply to citizenjeff. | December 4, 2014 at 10:57 am

        Cops were there because the merchants, (read,taxpayers), complained about him.

          citizenjeff in reply to kgoettl. | December 4, 2014 at 11:13 am

          I saw reports that a fight had occurred and that’s why the cops showed up. I’ve looked for reports that merchants complained at that time (as compared to in the past) about Garner selling cigarettes, and found nothing. It appears there was no probable cause, or at least nothing that the police claim was probable cause, and most people simply don’t care.

          kgoettl in reply to kgoettl. | December 4, 2014 at 12:30 pm

          Yup, your probably right, citizenjeff. I’ll bet the cops were just on their beat, and decided they were just going to kill the next black man that resisted a lawful order.

        FrankNatoli in reply to citizenjeff. | December 5, 2014 at 5:22 pm
        As Police Commissioner Bill Bratton noted, plainclothes cops — acting on repeated complaints from local merchants — told Garner they were going to arrest him. Garner, in turn, “made it quite clear he would not allow himself to be arrested.”

      creeper in reply to Sian. | December 4, 2014 at 12:24 pm

      But hadn’t he paid the state tax on them when HE bought them?

      Milhouse in reply to Sian. | December 5, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      It’s got nothing to do with taxes. In this case the cigarettes he was selling were also untaxed, but the law against selling loosies applies whether or not the tax has been paid. There’s also now a federal FDA regulation that applies to the whole country, including low-tax states.

      The purpose of the law is to deter smoking among those who are unable to afford a whole pack (the assumption is that this sector includes many minors).

    Exiliado in reply to citizenjeff. | December 3, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Is that really relevant?
    I don’t think you get resist arrest just because you think the officers are wrong. That’s decided in court.

    Lady Penguin in reply to citizenjeff. | December 4, 2014 at 6:24 am

    1) It’s against the law in NYC to sell “loose cigarettes” as in, he was purchasing much lowered taxed cigarettes in North Carolina to bring to NYC and sell them. It doesn’t matter whether we agree with their regulations or not, that’s for the people of NYC to decide. Also called States’ rights, what few we have left, each State is supposed to be self-determining, that is until the power-grabbing Federal government took over and keeps pushing the envelope – including the Roe v Wade decision.

    2) Mr. Garner had 31 previous arrests, so this wasn’t a first time event.

    3) While it may appear to be a “choke-hold” and certainly the media is pushing that meme, there is something called a “headlock”…Chokehold would have closed off his airpipe (trachea) and ability to not only breath, but not talk. The gentleman had asthma, and likely went into an asthmatic attack – bronchial spasms – which can and do cause the symptoms he was having, and people do die from asthmatic attacks.

    4) The physically of the arrest, combined with his numerous health issues brought this on. He told the cops “you’re not going to arrest me…” What are they supposed to do?

    5) Yes, it appears to be too much force, but he was big and what were they supposed to do – if they had tasered him, he was at high risk for a heart attack, and people have died from being tasered.

    6) Whites have died from some of the same police arrest confrontations, no one is rioting when those people die. Making race the issue and not addressing reasonable force, yet maintaining law and order is a society is what this is all about.

    He was selling cigarettes to kids and had been arrested for it I believe 30 times. Why was he resisting?

Prof. that is a very sound and reasoned approach, which is why it is the opposite of what the other side is doing.

My understanding is that this was NOT a “choke-hold”, but a “head-lock”.

Its application lasted, from what I see, much less than a minute. As soon as the LEOs have Garner on the ground, they were almost tender. They sure aren’t vicious or violent.

They did NOT leave Garner on his belly, but had him on his side.

Had they maced him or tazed him, given his issues, he would very likely have had the same reactions. And during the transition between him going down and being successfully cuffed, the LEOs would have used the same physical contact force (arms pinned, head pinned).

I thought, as I watched the video, that someone should have tried to get him into a sitting position. I would have, but I’m not a street cop. If I didn’t, I would ALSO not be guilty of any crime, or even a tort.

This man would very likely have died in a minor traffic accident, which could have delivered the same type and severity of injury very easily.

    Anchovy in reply to Ragspierre. | December 3, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    I did this kind of work for a few years. There were many cases when the best course was to de-escalate the situation even by walking away if necessary. This guy’s activity did not pose a threat to anyone and letting things cool down and returning later probably would have been the best course.

    It does not look to me like the officer was trying to apply a “choke” hold but was just trying to get this guy on the ground. There is no way anyone was going to be able to handcuff a guy this size with only one pair of cuffs. You would need to link two pairs at least or use a set of leg irons on his wrists.

    Cops that work rural areas and don’t have a lot of backup learn pretty quickly that you just do not take on an angry guy the size of this one. Defuse the situation and wait until things cool down as long as there is no threat to anyone else.

    I wasn’t there and I don’t know what these guys were thinking. I do know that I have been confronted with large drunk loggers that were tearing up a bar and, with a good measure of restraint, all of us ended up surviving.

    The problem is when both sides get too puffy chested for their own good and neither one will back down.

      Vince in reply to Anchovy. | December 3, 2014 at 11:06 pm

      You’re saying that’s a headlock that he was applying but that picture shows the cops with his forearm deep into his neck, possibly trying to secure it with his right hand. How does the headlock differ from a chokehold? To an untrained eye that looks like he’s being choked.

        Ragspierre in reply to Vince. | December 3, 2014 at 11:37 pm

        Well, I’ll venture 1) positioning, and 2) intent.

        You can try this at home! Let a friend, spouse, gardener needing to get paid put you in a head-lock. It may be a little embarrassing, but you can walk around all day and suffer no ill effects.

        If someone’s trained in a real choke-hold, they can choke you out in a few seconds. And that clearly was not what the LEO in the video intended, or even needed to do. He had plenty of help there once they started to subdue Mr. Garner.

          Gremlin1974 in reply to Ragspierre. | December 4, 2014 at 8:09 pm

          From what I can tell from the video the hold does look like a “choke hold” however, I think it was just bad positioning on the part of the officer, not a deliberate “choke hold”. First of all if it was a choke hold it was the sloppiest rear naked choke I have ever seen. It lasted about 9 to 10 seconds (In the video I watched at The Guardian it was from 1:27 to 1:36).

          I also noted in the video that another officer apparently noticed that the other officers arm had slipped below Garner’s chin and you can hear him saying “That’s enough” a couple of times. To me these comments seem directed at the officer who has is arm around Garner’s neck/head not at Garner. When the officer finally hears the other officer say “that’s enough” he quickly and immediately lets Garner go.

          If this had been a real choke hold, in 10 seconds Garner would have been completely unconscious and unable to complain about not being able to breath. While I am sure that the confrontation had something to do with Garner’s death, I can honestly say that I don’t think the “choke hold” had any more to do with it than Garner’s resistance did.

        Ragspierre in reply to Vince. | December 4, 2014 at 2:06 am

        After watching the video AGAIN…

        you can see that the initial take-down hold is not REMOTELY a “choke-hold” or even a “head-lock”.

        The LEO has one arm UNDER Garner’s arm, the other over his shoulder and meeting his hand to lock the hold. You can also see Garner rotate within that hold.

          huh, you said a head-lock in your first post. Do you even know the difference between the two? Explain it to us.

          Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | December 4, 2014 at 8:49 am

          See, this is what happens when I try to educate an asshole.

          Look at the video, do some research, learn for yourself.

          Or don’t.

          aerily in reply to Ragspierre. | December 6, 2014 at 9:09 pm

          I have to agree, it didn’t start as a choke hold or a headlock as Ragspierre mentioned. Once Garner was being transitioned to his stomach, Pantaleo changed his grip. The new grip could be described as a headlock or a chokehold. A second officer steps up seconds later and Pantaleo changes his grip again to pushing down on Garner’s head.

          I have a hard time blaming the officer for a momentary change of position to maintain control during an arrest. IMO at most, this would be something to discuss in AAR, possibly resulting in counseling or discipline within the department. It’s unfortunate that Garner died, but it seems he did so as a result of his own resistance to arrest.

          Maybe this isn’t the best analogy, but say we change the job from law enforcement to nursing. CPR is being performed following a witnessed arrest. The success rate of CPR from a witnessed event is quite high. In the stress of the moment the RN performing compressions pushes to 4 inches instead of 3, breaking AHA recommendations. This fractures a rib causing pneumothorax. The patient dies as a result of this pneumothorax which was made worse by the patient’s underlying health conditions. Here we have a patient who died as the result of someone acting in their official capacity, but making a mistake. What this boils down to is how serious of a mistake do we need before it is considered misconduct.

          In the Pantaleo case, I believe the jury saw a minor mistake and chose not to return a true bill as a result.

        Milhouse in reply to Vince. | December 6, 2014 at 7:43 pm

        By definition a chokehold applies pressure to the throat or windpipe. In this case there was none, as evidenced by the autopsy.

      Ragspierre in reply to Anchovy. | December 3, 2014 at 11:12 pm

      I agree as to tactics. But the issue here is not tactics but a criminal law violation, which just can’t be supported by anything I see here. Even Darren Wilson can be justifiably critiqued in terms of improving tactics. None of us perform optimally (every trial lawyer I know beats themselves up for days after even a winning trial).

      I’ll also say this; I think the ME is a quack. The hold…whatever it was…lasted seconds, and so did the “compression”. He was not “prone” in the sense that term is normally used.

      My brothers and I probably logged several hours each in that “hold” growing up.

      MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Anchovy. | December 3, 2014 at 11:21 pm

      The thing is in rural areas, if you allow things tom cool down, you can pick the guy up an hour later. In the city, the guy will have faded into the background.

      Sanddog in reply to Anchovy. | December 3, 2014 at 11:40 pm

      You walk away from this guy and he’s going to be twice as pissed next time you try and arrest him because you’ve emboldened him to continue what he was doing.

      If you’re trying to take down a guy twice your size who is visibly angry and resisting, it’s going to get ugly. Period. If the cops had tased him, the results may well have been the same and we’d be hearing about that forever. It’s just a no win situation.

      A stupid law that police are required to enforce, criminalizes selling individual cigarettes. Instead of getting pissed off at the government morons who write the laws, people direct their anger at the people tasked with enforcing it. I guess it’s easier not to blame the same jackasses you voted for.

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Sanddog. | December 4, 2014 at 12:03 am

        So well said. 🙂

        Lady Penguin in reply to Sanddog. | December 4, 2014 at 6:40 am

        Exactly, the more regulated, taxed and controlled a society is the more the people will find a way around the regulations/laws.

        It’s human nature. That’s why we know the terms “black market” “under the table” “cash only” & (let me tell you, NYC has huge numbers of ‘small’ businesses that take cash only. Why? So not all revenue gets reported to the tax collectors!)

        We’ll see the same thing with Obamacare in a different way, people just won’t buy insurance, the doctors will abandon insurance and people will go back to direct personal pay – cuts out the middle-man (Big, greedy government) and costs are less.

        Immolate in reply to Sanddog. | December 4, 2014 at 12:31 pm

        Walking away might be a good option. Then call in for “black-up”, meaning a special team of cops who are black and who can neutralize the entire “racial animus” angle of attack.

          JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Immolate. | December 4, 2014 at 12:49 pm

          That’s just more caving in to the pro-black meme. Why not just declare pro-black apartheid in the U.S. while you’re at it?

          Ragspierre in reply to Immolate. | December 4, 2014 at 1:12 pm

          If you watch both videos, you’ll see a black female sergeant…the on-scene supervisor…in the background.

          There were reputedly TWO sergeants there. Both REPUTEDLY given immunity for their grand jury testimony.

          Immolate in reply to Immolate. | December 4, 2014 at 1:34 pm

          I was just trying to get the term “calling for black-up” into my response. No need to harsh my mellow.

          Ragspierre in reply to Immolate. | December 4, 2014 at 2:38 pm

          Dude! My bad…!!! Play through.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Anchovy. | December 3, 2014 at 11:59 pm

      Returning later would not provide any advantage to anyone involved, unless you think Garner could lose 100 lbs. and some how be cured of a heart condition and asthma in the space of a couple hours.

      I don’t see the cops getting puffy-chested. They seemed gentle and not at all angry, just determined to make the arrest. Garner attempted the usual ghetto intimidation, yelling, anger and you’re always picking on me routine, then started throwing his arms around and resisting. This happens day-n and day-out. What you say bout rural cops is true, but this wasn’t rural. Thee could have been a lot of cops there very fast if needed.

      The cops aren’t doctors or triage nurses. They’re cops. The arrest criminals, not assess their health. The obesity was obvious, but they had no way to know about his heart or asthma. Garner was 43, not 63. Are the cops supposed to not arrest fatties or seek a medical report before arresting them?

      Garner has been arrested over thirty times. He knew the drill. He also was the one responsible to know his own health conditions and physical limitations. He’s responsible for his own death. All he had to do was submit and he MAY have lived another day.

    Garner sounded wheezy to me when he was talking. He could have already been in respiratory distress. I’m with the Prof on this – I’m waiting til the facts are in!

    Estragon in reply to Ragspierre. | December 4, 2014 at 1:23 am

    Exactly. Making an arrest on a big strong man who doesn’t want to go isn’t a walk in the park. How else to subdue the guy? Pepper spray and tasering would likely trigger the same heart attack – which is what killed him, not choking.

    I don’t understand the ‘walk away’ idea. Maybe cops who want to pick a guy up for questioning don’t do it when twenty of his pals are with him, but once he’s been arrested, how does the officer not follow through? Is there one law for small, weak guys and another for big ones?

      snopercod in reply to Estragon. | December 4, 2014 at 6:32 am

      Is there one law for small, weak guys and another for big ones?

      Yes, it’s called Newton’s 2nd Law of Motion.

And selling loosies? – a misdemeanor. All Eric had to do was let the police do their thing.
He was in a no-win situation. He probably didn’t want to cops to take away the money he had made already. So he tried to fight back. Not a smart move when his weight becomes threatening. It might make the cop put more effort into having more control.

These deaths of young men are heartbreaking especially when the first steps of police action were not brutal and the crimes were petty. But the protestors’ demonstrate a current that runs in the brains of these boys – a refusal to accept a of code of living or dying – that in the end only you can be responsible for you – you have to correctly judge the risk.
I can’t be there to tell you ‘Mike, just get up on the sidewalk.’

The fact is that every time a law is past criminalizing anything than you are telling the police to enforce that law which means up to and including using any lethal force they think necessary.

So, in other words, you’re telling us not to believe our lying eyes?
Sean Davis puts it well here. A person is guilty second-degree manslaughter if he “recklessly causes the death of another person”. A chokehold is a reckless maneuver, given that it has banned by the NYPD for two decades. You don’t have to prove the legality or illegality of the chokehold, just that it’s reckless.

    One might think, but did it contribute to Eric Garner’s death? I guess that’s the money question, and we don’t know the answer.

      WarrenPeese in reply to Sian. | December 4, 2014 at 2:55 am

      Garner died from “compression of the neck“, according to the medical examiner, so it’s pretty clear that Pantaleo killed Garner by chokehold. Since a chokehold is banned by NYPD, then it is fairly obvious that Pantaleo was reckless in using that maneuver. Therefore, second-degree manslaughter. This should have been an easy indictment.

        “So it’s pretty clear…” Um, no, it’s not, especially since you’re taking one phrase out of context of the medical examiner’s statement and incorrectly using it to bolster a claim of sole culpability. The ME statement *also* attributed the death’s several contributing factors to “compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint” and Garner’s acute and chronic bronchial asthma, obesity, and heart disease.

        It may well be that without the neck hold, the other factors would have resulted in Garner’s death anyway, or that the neck hold without the other factors would have allowed Garner to live. You make a wholly unsupportable conclusion but state it as if QED.

          WarrenPeese in reply to Ichneumon. | December 4, 2014 at 4:23 am

          Out of context how? The medical examiner “ruled that Eric Garner’s death was a homicide, caused by a chokehold and compression of his chest during an attempted arrest.” His last dying words were, “I can’t breathe,” over and over again, after the chokehold was applied. What could be clearer than that? There is no reasonable that Pantaleo killed Garner. There is no reasonable doubt that chokeholds have been banned by NYPD for over two decades.

          rokiloki in reply to Ichneumon. | December 4, 2014 at 5:03 pm

          WarrenPeese – you don’t understand ME “rulings.” A medical examiner may rule what caused a death, but he does not rule on the circumstances of a death. That is for the grand jury and, if there is an indictment, a jury trial. In this case, a grand jury decided there was not enough evidence for criminal charges. It also means, unless proven otherwise, the “homicide” was not criminal.

          If Garner was speaking, he was not choking. He may have had difficulty breathing which could have been caused by his asthma. But that fact someone *says* they can’t breath is hardly evidence that they can’t breath. The chokehold could have contributed to Garners death, but there is enough other contributing factors that the grand jury did not see a crime was committed by the officer.

          Gremlin1974 in reply to Ichneumon. | December 4, 2014 at 8:21 pm


          Also, remember that the words “homicide” and “Murder/Manslaughter” do not mean the same thing.

          Homicide is when it is believed that one human killed another human, period. A completely lawful and justified use of deadly force, say a woman killing a man who is attempting to rape her, is also a homicide. In law enforcement it basically means the death of a human that involves another human.

          Murder/Manslaughter on the other hand is the unlawful killing of anther person.

          So yes the ME’s description of Garner’s death as homicide is accurate, but it doesn’t mean it is equivalent to Murder.

        Gremlin1974 in reply to WarrenPeese. | December 4, 2014 at 8:33 pm

        So lets say that it was a choke hold, I can tell you from 29 years of Martial Arts, 20 years as a Nurse, and helping coach a high school wrestling team that it was not a “choke hold”, but even if it was the medial examiner doesn’t say that he died of choking or asphyxiation. The medical examiner also lists several other reasons for Garner’s death including compression of the chest and prone positioning. Why is the officer who had his arm around Garner’s neck more responsible than the others?

        Also, can you hold the officers responsible for exacerbating medical conditions that they didn’t know about? I mean if a cop is forced to taze a guy with a pace maker and it shorts out the pacer, and the guy dies. does that make him a murder?

        See you are picking one of many things that lead to Garners death and giving it more weight than the others.

        Also, note that if it had been a choke hold, you would have never been able to hear Garner say he couldn’t breath.

        Milhouse in reply to WarrenPeese. | December 6, 2014 at 8:08 pm

        The medical examiner’s report seems to be politically tailored. Perhaps he’s an incompetent nutcase like the one at the Zimmerman trial. There was no damage to the airways.

    Many people with far greater expertise on the subject than myself (or you) have disputed that this hold was actually a “choke hold” of the sort proscribed. Not all arms around the neck are a “choke hold”, that’s a very specific *kind* of hold. Unless you know something more about this than they do, you might want to follow Mr. Jacobson’s excellent example.

    Milhouse in reply to WarrenPeese. | December 6, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    There was no chokehold. The autopsy showed no damage to his airways; that shows there was no pressure on them. How else do you suggest they should have brought him down? Because not bringing him down was not an option. He announced that he was not going to allow himself to be arrested; do you suppose they should have just said “OK”?!

This is the first responsible reaction I have seen to this incident. Thanks, Professor.

A tangent: how come ciguarettes are sold in packs only?

The left is claiming criminals should be allowed to fight arrest on the street and the cops have to indulge the criminal.

So what does this have to do with race?

Do we know how many were on this Grand Jury?

Thank you for that, Professor.

Dead at 43. Had a criminal record going back to when he was 16.

Yes, blacks are fighting for the right to disobey the police! (As if these ghetto neighborhoods aren’t vicious enough)

Drudge centers the photo on top of his page. And, what I noticed is that all the signs are PRE-PRINTED! I guess if they depended on hand-written signs; none of them would be in cursive. And, the bigger problem is that most of these idiots can’t read or write.

So the commie’s print the signs up in advance. And, nobody gets shocked. It’s not quite “rent-a-mob” because these are willing performers in front of cameras. As soon as the camera lights go dim, do they disperse?

I respect the desire to get all the facts before entering an analysis.

Unfortunately, the left and race pimps have no such scruples, and are trying to crucify the officer.

The worst tragedy is the shameful trend on the right to join them.

Logically, how do you reconcile accepting the GJ result when an unarmed man is shot eight times, but not when he is merely taken to the ground manually?

My concern as I have written is not necessarily with the grand jury and the facts of how the arrest when down. My concern is that this is another example of how so many things are now illegal and the ever-increasing power of the state. There must have been at least 6,7, maybe more cops on him. One at least had a very visible bullet-proof vest and was clearly ready for some serious action. We have made the police into a paramilitary outfit which sees its role as taking down the enemy. Don’t tell me some cop couldn’t have just said, “Hey man. Stop with the cigarette business and written him a ticket.” Is selling a few cigarettes this serious of a crime that it requires this sort of violence to suppress? Has NYC dealt with all the other crimes out there so that this is all that’s left? This is progressivism gone mad; liberalism on steroids. The state seems to have no limits.

    Midwest Rhino in reply to Diplomad. | December 4, 2014 at 9:13 am

    This would be one of the vices the city gets to profit from, so they will protect it.

    Are the other vices run by those “other people” not prosecuted enough? Or maybe they are paying “taxes” to the right officials and their “retirement funds”?

    afaik, those other vices are all cleaned up and those illegal groups have all been brought to justice. But indeed these harsh taxes, soda bans, gun impediments, on the millions “trapped” in these big cities is a disturbing trend.

    Sanddog in reply to Diplomad. | December 4, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Every cop in my small town wears a bulletproof vest. It’s not because they’re militarized, it’s because they don’t want to be killed doing their jobs.

    Milhouse in reply to Diplomad. | December 6, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    No, this is the “broken windows” policing which brought NYC’s crime rate down so dramatically. The whole point of the policy is that you go after the “petty crimes”, because the same people who commit major crimes also commit petty ones.

    Also, selling loosies is indeed considered a serious offense by NY, and the NYPD brass had just days earlier issued an order to the whole force to crack down on it. It’s got nothing to do with taxes. All those people who are prattling on about taxes are talking through their hats. Both NY and the FDA have banned selling loosies, for reasons that seemed good to them, and that are completely unrelated to revenue raising. I don’t agree with them, but then I don’t agree with about 99% of the laws the police enforce.

If I understand Greta and the majority of commentators, we no longer want to enforce law.

I don’t think I can state it anymore clearly!

If a suspect says “I can’t breath” we should stop immediately? Lets just go ahead and include, Ouch, you’re hurting me, I give up, and any other complaint by someone resisting. At that point we should let them up to flee, attack and kill police officers.

Dare I say, the commentators are all morons!

If you don’t like the tax laws change them, don’t ask the officers to read minds!

I’m withholding judgment, but I would add this for consideration:

In the neck are four points of vulnerability:

1. Cervical spinal column. Break it and person is dead, paralyzed, etc. Not in play in this case.

2. Common carotid arteries, left and right. Squeeze these off with a hold and the person goes unconscious in.. 20 secs? Think MMA cage fighting. Hold it long enough and person dies.

3. To ‘choke’ someone commonly means to deprive them of oxygen. To do this requires you cut off the trachea (windpipe). Unconsciousness first, then death if held long enough.

Need a medico to determine whether the trachea was cut off at all, and if so, long enough to kill Garner.


If you can say out loud that you can’t breathe, you ARE breathing. If you literally can’t breathe, you can’t speak either, which requires the same air flow, just through the larynx as well as to the lungs.

Garner could only have meant ‘it’s getting harder to breath’. That does not sound like his trachea was totally choked off. A medico should look at a combo of possible restricted tracheal air flow and alleged prior hx of breathing problems.


A 300 lb who is a chronic smoker would get winded real damn quick. Was Garner a chronic smoker? COPD hx, maybe? Likely major contributor, if so.

    Ragspierre in reply to Henry Hawkins. | December 4, 2014 at 11:50 am

    I will say this: I’d hope for more engaged paramedics if I were in the midst of a cardiac event, or apparent distress leading to one.

    Again, according to the Supremes, are they even under any affirmative duty to render aid? The cops ARE, after taking a person into custody, but their duty is discharged when they call the paramedics and they respond.

      Henry Hawkins in reply to Ragspierre. | December 4, 2014 at 12:22 pm

      My overarching beef is that the initial ‘crime’ was selling cigarettes individually, which is a crime in NYC essentially (if not as written) because he wasn’t collecting and remitting cigarette taxes with each sale. It’s something like $7 per pack taxes there, to various levels of NY government.

      On the other hand, the law is the law, legal ways to change them exist, and if Garner had just submitted to arrest, he’d likely have been taken before a magistrate, given an appearance ticket for court, let go, and could have been back on the corner selling cigarettes within hours.

      As outrageous as it would be, and as certain as I would be that it wasn’t a real crime, if a local cop wanted to arrest me for wearing the wrong color shirt, I would not resist. He wouldn’t hurt me, and when I posted and got released, only then would I ‘resist’ – by calling my attorney. Saul.

        Ragspierre in reply to Henry Hawkins. | December 4, 2014 at 1:08 pm


        “You can beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride”.

        LEOs are trained to subdue you if they find probable cause for an arrest and initiate one.

        There is no good outcome if you resist.

          Henry Hawkins in reply to Ragspierre. | December 4, 2014 at 2:59 pm

          I tell my court-ordered clients, generally a feisty bunch, that yeah, you *might* whup one cop’s ass, maybe two or three even, but they will send more. Eventually you are going down. Hard. Play it smart, not for the cop’s sake, but for your own. Whatever anti-arrest defense system you’re using, if the cop is arresting you, you’ve already lost. Resisting arrest is about the only way to make sure your lawyer can’t help you on the original charge.

          A cigarette sales misdemeanor is not the hill to die on.

          Exiliado in reply to Ragspierre. | December 5, 2014 at 6:47 am

          Resisting arrest is about the only way to make sure your lawyer can’t help you on the original charge.

          If only our dear MSM had the decency to explain that to the public.

        Milhouse in reply to Henry Hawkins. | December 6, 2014 at 8:22 pm

        My overarching beef is that the initial ‘crime’ was selling cigarettes individually, which is a crime in NYC essentially (if not as written) because he wasn’t collecting and remitting cigarette taxes with each sale.

        You are wrong. Selling individual cigarettes is a crime everywhere in the USA, for reasons that have nothing to do with taxes. It would be every bit as criminal if he’d bought the pack in NYC, and therefore paid the taxes on it. Now I don’t think it should be illegal, just as I don’t think selling any drug (or anything else) should be illegal. But it is, and I can’t fault the police for arresting people for it.

        Milhouse in reply to Henry Hawkins. | December 6, 2014 at 8:26 pm

        By the way, while the FDA rule is only a few years old, in most states (including NY) selling loosies has been illegal for over 20 years. So it’s not as if this is something people don’t know about.

      Gremlin1974 in reply to Ragspierre. | December 4, 2014 at 8:40 pm

      Yea as a Nurse I can tell you that their response seems fairly negligent to me. While I have only seen pictures and not the full video, they should have put Oxygen on him immediately. The medics response or lack there of, probably contributed more to his death than the cops.

Heard on radio: No indictment in NY case where man killed by police for selling cigarettes ilegally.

Bullshit. He was confronted fr selling cigarettes illegally, but committed a new, much worse crime of resisting a lawful arrest. He was injured in the always messy process of taking down a resisting suspect. We’ve all seen this on COPS a thousand times.

Police subduing people resisting arrest is a very, very common event. Happens all day, every day, in just about every American jurisdiction. To draw a proper bead on this, one needs to factor in how many times police take down someone resisting arrest and don’t kill them. I’ll venture a guess the number is in the neighborhood of
99.99% of resisted arrests result in no deaths of arrestees.

Speaking to the overall topic of police brutality, the few deaths that occurr seem like freak but inevitable events, to be expected given the large number of resisted arrests happening every day.

Thank you, professor for a very sensible post.

Trial by Fury is inconsistent with the notion of “justice for all.”

Could they have pursued a ‘negligent homicide’ charge?

    Gremlin1974 in reply to heyjoojoo. | December 5, 2014 at 12:41 am

    I would be surprised if that wasn’t one of the options put before the Grand Jury, also remember that Grand Juries can come up with their own charges as well. Say a prosecutor asks for a 2nd degree murder charge, the Grand Jury can return a true bill on 1st degree murder instead.

Here’s a fact we didn’t know – one of the supervising sergeants at the scene was a black female. Kind of destroys the racist thing, doesn’t it?

It’s good of you to be all “fair and balanced” here. Except you’re entire treatise is based on the fact that he was “resisting arrest.” When in fact he didn’t seem to be resisting arrest so much as resisting harassment. The police in this country are out of control. I’d rather take my chances with the criminal gangs, than with the legal gangs of police.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to Running Wolf. | December 4, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    “I’d rather take my chances with the criminal gangs, than with the legal gangs of police.”

    And I’d offer you big money if bring me video of you making that choice. YouTube has a special Irony Section.

    I think Zemir Begic would beg the differ with you. Idiotic comment – come on, you can do better than that.

    Exiliado in reply to Running Wolf. | December 5, 2014 at 6:43 am

    I’d rather take my chances with the criminal gangs…

    An indication that you are one of them, or sympathize with them; the scum of society.

    And yes, dear. He was resisting arrest.

    I have to mention my favorite bumper sticker. It’s from the 60’s, but you can understand the meaning: “If you don’t trust the police, the next time you get mugged, call a hippie.”

I am a little puzzled. How can you talk if you can’t breathe?

    Barry in reply to dckubler. | December 4, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    You cannot. But a person could be having difficulty breathing and still talk.

    Ragspierre in reply to dckubler. | December 5, 2014 at 12:14 am

    Someone suffering an acute asthma attack OR a cardiac event will often report they cannot breath. In either case, they CAN “breath” in the sense they are inhaling and exhaling, but it isn’t doing them much good. They still experience the event as being unable to breath, and for the same reason…they aren’t getting oxygen to the brain, but for different reasons.

Is it possible that there was some kind of communication between the arresting officers and their bosses re whether they should make the arrest? Maybe they were given some kind of orders, maybe not. This would be a matter of record, hopefully.

Plenty of readers here are going ahead and ponificating their pants off, facts be damned. Just look at some of the comments on this post, and on the previous post here ( ) for a taste.

What an unedifying spectacle.

By the way, for all the smarmy wannabe-pedants who are guffawing over their own erudite observations that the fact that some says “I can’t breathe!” Is obviously still BREATHING, and is thus a Lying Liar Who Lies (and so probably deserved to be killed for his trouble anyway), tell me what you would do if you had an asthmatic daughter who, while play-wrestling with her cousin, suddenly started gasping the same complaint. Would you laugh at her and tell her cousin to keep it up, she’s obviously just lying because the fact that she can speak means she’s lying? Or would you race to stop the wrassling and get her some medical attention?

I don’t know enough to comment on *this particular case*, but as someone with a close relative whose last words were “I can’t breathe … help me….”, I find the fact that so many are using the “I can’t beathe” = LIAR!! as their big “gotcha” here is kind of creepy.

    Ragspierre in reply to Amy in FL. | December 5, 2014 at 11:14 am

    …well, THAT was just weird.

    More coffee? Maybe LESS coffee?

    Midwest Rhino in reply to Amy in FL. | December 5, 2014 at 11:26 am

    For one thing, much of the pontificating is to refute the narrative that is based in politics, rather than fact. The narrative is stated as fact … as if the video makes it fact that cops mercilessly strangled the man as he pleaded, and that racism was the driving motive.

    The “I can’t breathe” was serious enough, and likely related to his asthma. But the “he could still speak” indicates it was not the alleged “stranglehold” or choke hold. It doesn’t mean Garner was lying, it indicates it was perhaps not related at all to the hold, or at most, marginally.

    Punching holes in the political narrative seems like a necessary effort. We can only depend on the 23 jurors to make an actual judgement based on months of analysis, and not even half thought it was probable that this was a crime. It is the protesters that are assuming the jurors also, are racist and/or liars.

    I view the jurors as innocent unless proven guilty, and defend their decision. IF Garner had tried to run instead of flailing his arms, the same amount of physical effort may have killed him just the same, but without this spectacle that made national news.

    Barry in reply to Amy in FL. | December 5, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    “I don’t know enough to comment on *this particular case*… ”

    Doesn’t seem to stop you.

    It is not in contention that the gentleman was having difficulty breathing, only the reason why. It was related to the arrest and takedown, perhaps the headlock. It was also likely related to his medical condition.

    Having said that, it is my opinion that the arrest was ridiculous, the law is ridiculous, the enforcement of petty laws in this fashion are ridiculous. Watching the video it is not completely clear to me the man was even resisting arrest in a physical way. The cops should have held back.

    That does not make the cops guilty of any crime, unsuitable to be LEO’s perhaps, but not criminals.

“Chokehold murder?” How ludicrous. Have you watched the video? The officer applied a takedown maneuver on Mr. Garner and had his arm around the big man’s neck for 12 seconds max (count ’em) after which he held the man’s head to the ground — with no further restraint to the neck area. The autopsy confirmed that there was no damage or bruising to Garner’s neck or throat. Garner could breathe well enough to repeatedly and clearly call out his distress, demonstrating that his airway was unobstructed and that the takedown hold did not precipitate his death. With five or six officers piled on top of him, the medically-compromised Garner suffered an asthmatic panic attack that resulted in heart failure. 

One officer was singled out for possible prosecution while the others received immunity for testifying against him. Culpability, if any, should accrue to all the policemen involved, don’t you think? The Grand Jury decided it would be unfair to lay the entire blame on a single individual who was no more blameworthy than any of the others. They made the correct and ethical decision.

Are you aware that the ranking officer at the scene was a black female who supervised the whole incident? Did you know that the patrolmen were sent, by their black commander, to arrest Garner for selling “loosies” after meeting with and receiving complaints from black shopkeepers? It is tragic that Mr. Garner died as a result of resisting arrest, but in no way was Officer Pantaleo solely responsible for his death. And for certain, Mr. Garner was NOT “choked to death.”

    davod in reply to Solomon. | December 5, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    There were two supervisors including the black female sergeant. No one intervened. The four EMTs, who arrived after being called for by the police,have been suspended because they did little to assist Garner. Garner died on the way to the hospital.

Eric Garner weighted 350 pounds. A doctor once explained that, when people are that obese, they have to remain vertical all the time. If they lay down, the weight of their own fat compresses their lungs, and they are in respiratory distress. They typically sleep sitting up in lounge chairs. It’s almost impossible to perform surgery on them, because you cannot operate on a patient who’s sitting up.
I suspect that the real reason he had trouble breathing wasn’t because of any pressure on his neck, but the pressure his own fat was putting on his lungs. It wasn’t a “choke hold,” but simply forcing him to the sidewalk, that caused the distress.

    Ragspierre in reply to SRaher. | December 5, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Watch the video. Garner is watched over and kept on his side, which is in line with NYPD policy.

    As I noted above, I would have tried to get him into a sitting position, but I am not a street cop, and there may have been reasons not to do that.

      SRaher in reply to Ragspierre. | December 5, 2014 at 5:44 pm

      I will concede that an obese person will not have as much pressure on his lungs when he is lying on his side as he would have if he were on his back. However, lying on his side will still put pressure on his lungs, more so than when he’s standing. An extremely obese person has to sleep sitting up because lying down, even on his side, causes distress. I stand by my lying-down-caused-the-problem position.

        Ragspierre in reply to SRaher. | December 5, 2014 at 6:00 pm

        OK, sure. But WHICH problem of the several he presented was the one that carried him out? OR which combination of problems?

        And we’re getting WAY far afield from any criminal act by any of the LEOs. Did the paramedics put him in an upright position during transport? Dunno.

        As I noted above, there are almost always things one can learn about tactics and best policy, but at the end of the day this incident doesn’t point to anyone acting outside of what would be considered good police practice in place at the time.

        And, again, Garner would easily have been exposed to the exact same conditions in a minor traffic accident. If I came on him and rendered aid, my first instinct would have been to put him flat on his back to begin first aid.

        kgoettl in reply to SRaher. | December 6, 2014 at 7:29 am

        No, fat boy refusing to comply with a lawful order led to the problem.

A question to the lawyers out there…

Do the cops have a duty after they apprehend someone to make sure he is alright while awaiting transport ?

As a long time practicing Doc and after reviewing the following Youtube Garner appeared to be unconscious for most of the 7 minutes after his apprehension. When a man of that weight and size (and pre-existing asthma, hypertension and diabetes) is left unconscious on his side the likelihood of an at least partially blocked airway is quite high. Acute stress will further exacerbate an acute asthma attack, further diminishing oxygen. Mr. Garner needed to be raised into a sitting position and most likely needed a few puffs of an asthma inhalant. The lack of oxygen most likely triggered the heart attack. IMHO the cops malfeasance in handling Garner after his apprehension played a great role in his death.

Also it is very clear on the initial video of the arrest that a choke hold was indeed applied although only for a few seconds. The cop’s forearm is clearly being applied to the throat while his other hand grasped the wrist of the forearm that was directly on Garner’s throat.

Something tells me we will never see any of the grand jury presentation here and will have to wait for a civil action to be able to see all the evidence

    Gremlin1974 in reply to DrJim77. | December 5, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    “When a man of that weight and size (and pre-existing asthma, hypertension and diabetes) is left unconscious on his side the likelihood of an at least partially blocked airway is quite high.”

    Actually, you could not be more incorrect. Placing someone on their side is standard medical practice to help keep the airway clear. It is commonly known as “the recovery position”. It allows for a clear airway and will allows things such as excess saliva and or vomit to come out of the mouth.

    “Acute stress will further exacerbate an acute asthma attack, further diminishing oxygen.”

    You are absolutely correct, however, how could the cops know that he had asthma?

    “Mr. Garner needed to be raised into a sitting position and most likely needed a few puffs of an asthma inhalant.”

    As a Nurse I can tell you that the only reason I would have put Mr. Garner into a sitting position is if he was conscious and able to maintain that position and a stable airway, otherwise I would have done my best to keep him on his side. Also, where would the cops have gotten the “asthma inhalant” that you seem to assume was readily available? Also, are cops approved to administer medications, it is most likely that they are told not to administer meds because it is a MASSIVE Liability if something goes wrong.

    “The lack of oxygen most likely triggered the heart attack.”

    Complete speculation that is not supported by the autopsy. If a lack of oxygen had caused a heart attack the findings from the ME would have been Myocardial Infarction secondary to asphyxiation.

    “IMHO the cops malfeasance in handling Garner after his apprehension played a great role in his death.”

    Unfortunately, you opinion is based only on opinion not on fact.

      SmokeVanThorn in reply to Gremlin1974. | December 5, 2014 at 10:07 pm

      “’The lack of oxygen most likely triggered the heart attack.’

      Complete speculation that is not supported by the autopsy. If a lack of oxygen had caused a heart attack the findings from the ME would have been Myocardial Infarction secondary to asphyxiation.”

      Where can I find the autopsy report so I can see what the ME’s findings were?

      SmokeVanThorn in reply to Gremlin1974. | December 6, 2014 at 4:03 pm

      Can you please cite the findings by the ME that negate a heart attack caused by lack of oxygen?

        Ragspierre in reply to SmokeVanThorn. | December 6, 2014 at 6:56 pm

        Smoke, I can’t find the autopsy anywhere, so I doubt it is available on-line.

        If you find it, let us know, please.

          SmokeVanThorn in reply to Ragspierre. | December 7, 2014 at 3:08 pm

          Will do. I thought that Gremlin must have access to the report, because she was spoke so authoritatively about its contents while criticizing DrJim.

          Gremlin1974 in reply to Ragspierre. | December 7, 2014 at 5:39 pm

          Nor can I have access to the autopsy report. I am however bright enough to know that if the report had said anything about asphyxiation or that asphyxiation leading to a heart attack that it would have been emblazoned in bold print across every liberal rag in the country. Also, since the autopsy report isn’t available then doesn’t that just prove that Dr. Jim was just speculating?

          Also, I was not criticizing anyone, I was relating what my training and experience has been in my 20 years of medicine.

          SmokeVanThorn in reply to Ragspierre. | December 8, 2014 at 1:00 pm

          The fact is that, at this point, you can’t cite any finding of the autopsy report that negates a heart attack secondary to hypoxia and are speculation as to what the report is likely to say.

          After lambasting Dr.Jim for his “speculation.”

Again, Doc, a person in police custody is under their care and keeping, legally. (I’m not a criminal lawyer, this is just what I recall from law school.)

But you can’t charge a street cop with knowing what you know, or even what a paramedic knows.

I can put you in a head-lock EXACTLY like that you see in the video after Garner is down, and it will cause you nothing but embarrassment. Just because someone touches your neck, you are not “choked”. Haven’t you ever seen a high school wrestling match?

I’m not certain, but it seems that several times Mr. Garner was addressed by the police and the paramedic and was responsive.

And “malfeasance” is a term of art. Your “standard of care” is not that of a LEO.

Prof. Jacobson, I respect your decision to know more facts before making judgment on the police action.

I’m a pretty good internet searcher, but have found it difficult to find out many facts. Questions I have: When did Eric Garner die–on the way to the hospital? What efforts were used to resuscitate him and by who? To what degree were the arresting police officers supervised? What was the evidence that Eric Garner committed a crime? Was the video shown in the media edited? From the point of view of an experienced policeman in a similar situation, was the degree of force used on Eric Garner unreasonable? Does the autopsy indicate that a “chokehold” was used? What types of head holds are permissible in order to subdue a person resisting arrest?

As a parent and grandparent, I would not want anyone that I care about to NOT resist arrest. Application of police power is a crude instrument and injuries and death can easily occur to both the subject as well as the police.

    John S in reply to John S. | December 6, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Ooops–in my above post–I meant to say that–

    As a parent and grandparent, I would not want anyone that I care about to resist arrest.

JackRussellTerrierist | December 6, 2014 at 1:29 am

Professor, we still beez pontificatin’.

But then you knew we would. That’s why we have a thread that says we won’t. 🙂

For what it’s worth:

The hold used to take down Garner was not a chokehold or headlock, it was a seatbelt takedown hold — This hold is not classified as a chokehold by the NYPD; in fact, it is taught in it’s police academy. Thus, the use of the hold does not violate NYPD policy. However, NYPD policy goes on to define, in a PC manner, a chokehold as one that results in neck compression, evidence of which was found at autopsy. The neck compression appears to have resulted from Garner being much taller than the officer, Garner’s huge girth, and his resistance. I suspect that NYPD will soon prohibit use of the seatbelt takedown and reclassify it, improperly, as a chokehold.

I assume NY law grants LEOs the authority to use whatever force is necessary (but no more) to make an arrest. I see no excessive use of force here. I do see resistance by someone well acquainted with arrest procedures and, presumably, with his own health frailties.

If you can utter “I can’t breathe” numerous times in a loud and clear voice, you are breathing.

Given the number of LEOs on the scene, I assume they were anticipating a problem, perhaps because of Garner’s reported size and demeanor. I can’t imagine convening that number is normal for a misdemeanor arrest in NYC.

Lesson learned — if you are an LEO, don’t be the one to volunteer to perform the takedown.