In a month’s time, it will be exactly one year since the death of 43-Year-Old Staten Island man Eric Garner after a confrontation with the NYPD. In an investigative piece from the New York Times, it is revealed that prosecutors attempted to shift the perception of a key witness in the case to downplay the seriousness of the situation.
The Times published a piece over the weekend titled, “Beyond The Chokehold: The Path To Eric Garner’s Death” and details of the case that were previously unknown came to light and depict a long history of overzealous policing in the Staten Island neighborhood Garner died. But what was especially disturbing is that the report showed that police failed to report that Officer Daniel Pantaleo actually placed a chokehold on Garner despite witness testimony and the video seen around the world.
The witness, Taisha Allen, was instructed by prosecutors to not call Pantaleo’s chokehold maneuver a chokehold, nor did they allow her to stick to her account of saying she didn’t think Garner had a pulse as he lay on the ground with the officers around him. In essence, it appeared that the prosecutors tried to alter Allen’s account to lean away from an assumption, which is fair in the court of law, but also came off as a bullying tactic in observation.
More from the Times:
The video images were cited in the final autopsy report as one of the factors that led the city medical examiner to conclude that the chokehold and chest compression by the police caused Mr. Garner’s death. Absent the video, many in the Police Department would have gone on believing his death to have been solely caused by his health problems: obesity, asthma and hypertensive cardiovascular disease. The autopsy report, which is confidential, was provided by a person close to Mr. Garner’s family.
“We didn’t know anything about a chokehold or hands to the neck until the video came out,” said a former senior police official with direct knowledge of the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect his access to confidential department information. “We found out when everyone else did.”
Other details in the informative Times report include how the area where Garner sold “loosies,” aka loose cigarettes, was a hotbed of petty crimes and drug sales.
A local landlord who often called the non-emergency line for the NYPD on persons selling loosies and other small crimes in the area says he no longer does so because of Garner’s death.
Read the full New York Times report by following this link.