An internal report, prepared by New York Police Department investigators, does not mention that arresting officers used a chokehold while attempting to take Eric Garner into custody last week.
Garner, a 43-year-old asthmatic, died in an ambulance on his way to a nearby hospital after police arrested him for selling untaxed cigarettes on a Staten Island street Thursday.
A bystander shot a video of the violent arrest that shows one officer wrapping his arms around Garner’s neck before forcing him to the ground.
The report, obtained by The New York Daily News, makes no mention of the chokehold and says that Garner did not appear to be in “great distress” at the time of the arrest.
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Sgt. Dhanan Saminath, according to the report, told interviewers that the police were simply “maintaining control of [Garner].”
Sgt. Kizzy Adonis said during the interview that “the perpetrator’s condition did not seem serious and that he did not appear to get worse.”
But Adonis did acknowledge in the report that she “believed she heard the perpetrator state that he was having difficulty breathing.”
Garner’s death has sparked demonstrations in the city and has community members demanding a full investigation of the incident.
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“The issue was how an unarmed man was subjected to a chokehold, and the result is he is no longer with us,” Rev. Al Sharpton is quoted as saying by CBS-New York.
Sharpton helped organize a rally for Garner’s friends and family at the National Action Network in New York last week.
“It was our contention that one – there needed to be an immediate investigation, but secondly, after you look at the video, and the use of this chokehold – which is against departmental procedure – there is no justification at all on this chokehold, and there is clearly no reason when a man is saying, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,’ that you maintain this chokehold,” Sharpton said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, after reviewing the video, said he was troubled by what he saw. He appeared for a press conference with William J. Bratton, the city’s police commissioner, Friday.
“I watched it the same way a family member would watch it, and it was very sad to watch,” de Blasio said of the video.
The Washington Post reports de Blasio has ordered Bratton to conduct a full investigation.
Bratton said at the press conference that chokeholds are not permitted by the department and that the video seemed to indicate that officers used a chokehold when arresting Garner.
“As defined in the department’s patrol guide, this would appear to have been a chokehold,” Bratton said. But he said he would leave the final determination up to the district attorney and the police department’s own internal affairs department.
One officer involved in the arrest has been stripped of his badge and gun pending the outcome of the investigation. Another has been put on desk duty. Four emergency workers, who were also at the scene, have been suspended without pay.
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