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Chief of Dept. Denies Targeting Cigarette Sales in Area of Garner's Arrest

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TWC News: Chief of Dept. Denies Targeting Cigarette Sales in Area of Garner's Arrest
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New York City Police Department's Chief of Department Philip Banks is responding to reports that he had a role in the chain of events that ended in Eric Garner's death.

Published reports this morning claim Banks sent a sergeant from his office in July to investigate complaints of untaxed cigarettes in the Tompkinsville neighborhood.

That's the same neighborhood where Garner died after police tried to arrest him on July 17 for allegedly selling untaxed loose cigarettes.

Chief Phillip Banks tells NY1, "I did not personally direct anyone in the NYPD to take any actions concerning loose cigarettes sales in the 120th precinct or any other precinct."

Meantime, the war of words between the police union and Reverend Al Sharpton continues in the wake of Garner's death.

Appearing on "Inside City Hall", the head of the police union fired back in defense of the police officer who put Garner in that fatal chokehold.

Pat Lynch echoed many of the points he made forcibly in Tuesday's press conference.

He says police officers didn't have the option to just walk away when Garner refused to be arrested.

Lynch says Sharpton should stop calling for federal investigators to step in before local officials have finished.

"Allow the investigation to go forward. Not call for a police officer to be arrested. Look we protect - as police officers - we protect Al Sharpton's right to have an opinion but his opinion should not be elevated above the opinion of other community folks and were not hearing those other folks," Lynch said.

The unions are disputing the medical examiner's ruling that Garner's death was a homicide caused by a chokehold.

They say the report is politically motivated.

But Sharpton says he's backing the ME's ruling.

Garner's family is reportedly bringing in an outside expert to review the autopsy.

Sharpton has scheduled a march for August 23 across the Verrazano Bridge, from Brooklyn to Staten Island.

Garner's family will lead the march with Sharpton, along with other families of people killed by police. ClientIP:,, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP