Sunday, December 21, 2014

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The Call Blog: Investigators Probe Death Of Staten Island Man In Police Custody

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The death of Eric Garner is the first police-related crisis for our new Mayor. It also coincides with Mayor de Blasio's first vacation. He's delaying the departure to Italy for a few hours. But his team needs to tread lightly the next nine days. This upcoming week may go a long way in defining his legacy.

Mayor de Blasio called the death of 43-year-old Eric Garner a "terrible tragedy" that is "troubling" and "very sad to watch." Garner suffered a heart attack and died shortly after several police officers wrestled him to the ground for allegedly selling individual cigarettes yesterday on Staten Island's north shore.

At a news conference today, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton promised a full and thorough investigation into the incident, which a witness captured on a cell phone. On the video, Garner repeatedly complains about difficulty breathing as an officer has his arm around the 6-foot-3, 350-pound suspect's neck.

The two arresting officers are being assigned to desk duty pending the results of the investigation. Choke holds by officers are prohibited by the NYPD. As for Garner, police say he's been arrested nine times for selling individual cigarettes in the past five years.

What's your reaction to the death of Eric Garner? What questions do you want answered in this investigation? Did Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bratton send the right message today? Do you feel this confrontation about selling "loosies" is a result of Bratton's crackdown on low-level crimes?

Send your thoughts using the link above.

I am saddened by this, why in the most culturally diverse city in the world, would something like this happen.


As a white male, Hassidic Jew, - never subjected to NYPD brutality - I am outraged that New York City - the financial capital of the world - can NOT find the money to train it's police force to keep the city safe with out using so much aggregation.

Borough-Park, Brooklyn

I would like to contribute for a good lawyer to make sure these cops who committed the crime to be locked up in prison. This week alone I've seen 3 videos of cops committing serious crimes everything has a limit.


It's heartbreaking that yet another unarmed African American Man is killed. You can't wear a hoodie, you can reach for your wallet, you can't go to your bachelor party, you can't shop or drive a nice car and you certainly cant stand on a street corner while being African American. According to Democracy Now ..." found at least 136 unarmed African Americans were killed by police, security guards and self-appointed vigilantes in 2012. Overall, one black person was killed in an extrajudicial shooting every 28 hours."

When will it end.

Midland Beach, Staten Island


Prohibition on the selling of cigarettes is wrong, if you will an illegal law. It is a violation of individual and property rights.

The cops, one and all, should be prosecuted for murder and sent to jail for life. Actually for two life terms with no chance of parole. That's because it's the cop's job to protect life and liberty. When they violate it, the punishment should be far more than what would be exacted on a civilian.

Port Richmond, SI

Hi John;

These officers are criminals. Bad policing doesn't get worse. And to hear the poor guy was selling "loosies". These cops, particularly the ones who put there hands on Mr. Garner, need to do time behind bars. The officers who did nothing to stop this assault are equally guilty. This is a good indication of how civilians are handled by police officers in Staten Island and throughout the other NY boroughs. Things have gone from bad to worse. We need a new Police Commissioner.

Prayers for Mr. Garner and for his parents, wife, and children.

Midtown East

another innocent person of color dead because NYPD officers can't control themselves. a rap sheet for selling cigarettes used as an excuse? Give me a break. Let's see if someone goes to jail this time.

meryl from manhattan

I am deeply saddened to hear about tragedy. Him getting arrested nine times for the same offense tells me that was his livelihood.

I do not want to judge. I can only imagine what happens to the human spirit when mired in crime- I'm talking about the cops. How can police police and still remember to be humane is the question.

The Bronx

He had trouble breathing and an ambulance was called. He had a history of violent behavior. If the politicians and that Sharpton turn it into a racial issue they can take a hike.

Park Hill

Hi John,

We all know that a white man would never have been so brutally & inhumanely chocked 2 death like that. White cops have reckless abandoned when dealing with black people male R female PERIOD! It's got 2 end!

Springfield Gardens, NY


If makes me physically sick to watch the video of how the police killed (or shall I say assisted in the demise) Eric Garner yesterday. I'm embarrassed to admit that I was a NYC police officer. The man was unarmed; I'm sure the NYPD brass and Union will try to put a spin on this story to make the cops look justified. The female sergeant just stood by doing nothing; she didn't even call for an ambulance. That man was no threat to the police officers on the scene. And if he was a threat, the officers could have maced him. If they could do this to him, they would do it to anyone. All for selling "untaxed cigarettes" .

If this crime happened in Brooklyn, we would have a Crown Heights type riot on our hands. Al Sharpton will host the victim's family tomorrow. It will be live streamed for all to see.

These cops should all be indicted for their participation in this murder.

Eric Garner, Rest in Peace.

Midtown East

Hi John,

What is the penalty for selling loosies? Also why was he arrested for this crime 9 times within the last 5 years and yet was still a habitual offender of this same crime. They will have to make up their mind about this situation with the cigarettes. In order to cut down on smoking the price of a pack and carton are taxed enormously. This situation shows us that they have been selling loosies since the beginning of time because no matter how much a pack is the price is so high that one cannot afford a pack and so they resort to loosies.

We do have to find out why there was such resistance by 43 year old Eric Garner. If this was a minor offense then we must investigate the matter as to why such resistance by Garner and it could very well be that he could not breath. This does not excuse the tactics of the NYPD but I also am not aware that there was any sound along with the cell photo of the incident.

Tragic for him and his family. A very sad situation.

Thank you John,

Danielle , Harlem.... If the medical examiner findings state that the choke hold caused his death . Those officers should be arrested . Too many times officers think they are above the law.

To me, this is an unfortunate tragedy, i am 100 percent certain that the police did not mean to kill Eric Garner. This was an individual who sold cigarettes illegally. What is also unfortunate is that there will be many people who will turn this into a racial issue and this tragedy has nothing to do with race. Could the NYPD have handled the situation in a better fashion? Perhaps, but please do not make this about race.

Michael from Jamaica.

NYPD have some great officers, unfortunately the bad apples make the news. The police department has to do a better job of getting rid of the bad apples. I watch a police officer throw a youth through a bank window in Harlem. Kids were getting out of school and doing what many youth do horsing around dancing and talking to girls. They had the school safety officers out there. There was no reason for this police officer to even approach these young men. What are the safety officer's out there for if the police is going to harass these young people.

Miss Mae from Harlem

When two officers are given desk duty with pay after choke-holding a man to death who was not resisting arrest and screaming "i can't breathe" over and over, the city of New York is sending a message. And that message is that it is ok for police to do this. Shame on the mayor who i voted for, for allowing such a deplorable act. This is America. Not North Korea.

Sam from manhattan

The apparent murder of this man is another example of a police force in need of radical reform. Start by raising the standards so that people who are qualified to do something else besides standing around and abusing the public might want to join the force.


The sad part is if 5-10 black cops did this to a white male, they would be fired and arrested. The view on black males in our society is a sickening one. It's easy to say " just let them put the cuffs on you" until you're the one in cuffs. We have it harder than anybody else in this city, especially us big black men

Randall from Brooklyn

The caller Greg should be ashamed of himself. He basically blamed the deceased for his own death. This is very disrespectful.

The video shows excessive force from the officers towards the deceased. NYPD does things like this more than people realize, but this time, they went too far and a man is dead. Situations like this are the reasons why the NYPD cannot be trusted.

Maria - Upper West Side


Does Commissioner Bratton think that a "loosie" arrest is a good collar. We have a big problem in the NYPD. And Deblasio won't replace him because then he'll have to admit he made a bad choice for Commissioner.

midtown east

It is very sad, and unfortunate, that this man died during this struggle with police. However, let us not immediately blame, and crucify the officers who were trying to arrest someone who did appear to be resistant. It is very easy for us all to sit back and point out what the police officers did wrong. But they do have a dangerous job that puts their physical safety in harms way everyday. If New York scrutinizes errors in everything police officers do while in their performance, it will just discourage our police force from proactively performing at all.

Cal M.
Nassau Queens

The man was explaining peacefully to the cops that he didn't do anything wrong, and then the cops used excessive force after ganging up on him for no reason at all.. The nypd is suppose to protect people in this city from crime and other criminal activities. They choked him to death, for no apparent reason. The police used to much force on this man, that was sick. I think that these officers should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for killing someone.


another senseless death at the hands of out of control NYPD officers. the video is incredibly disturbing. using a rap sheet for selling cigarettes as an excuse for that kind of brutality? Give me a break!did they need 6 cops to arrest him? why were only 2 officers placed on desk duty? will a cop finally be held accountable and go to jail? If Diblasio goes on vacation he will lose all credibility with the people of this city.

meryl from manhattan

I just watched the deadly attack of Erick Garner in Staten Island by a group of New York City police officers. I am outraged, appalled, and sickened at what I just witnessed. About 6 officers attacked this man, gave him a choke hold, and then, when he was wrestled to the ground and lying on his back, one of the officers in the green t-shirt with the #99 on it, placed both his hands over Erick's face, nose and mouth, apparently killing him. This incident, or more accurately, this murder, was quite apparent in the video. And then to learn that this was about possibly selling loose cigarettes is horrifying. There is no excuse for this obvious example of excessive force which killed a human being.

from Riverdale, The Bronx

The same thing happened to my son in the same area last summer. My son n I were driving home I accidently turned down a one way street. A van came up behind me I stopped realizing what I did. I said OMG I didn't realize it was a one way street. The officers engnores me and went right for my son in the passenger seat. Ripped him out brutily. And my son was screaming "u see mom what they do to me " they slammed him up against the wall tripping him down to the floor. Banging him ripping off his jewelry. My son started to spit at them yelling get off me. They brought him to the 120 prec. Threw him down the stairs. Me n his girl friend were right outside the door when he hit the floor. As they opened the door I started to scream what n why r u doing this. When the door opened my so was bleeding from his cheek. As that point they brought him to the hospital for stitches. I'm sorry but UR police force is way to brutle to young men in that area.


I just watched the full video as you suggested and he was resisting arrest. When a cop approaches you they don't stop you for a debate or conversation. They are stopping you for a reason, so cooperate and get a lawyer. It is ridiculous how they don't get any respect.


This is DiBlasio's chance to differentiate himself from previous administrations on the issue of police brutality. This is an outrage! I am devasted as a New Yorker. I don't want to live in a city where police officers use excessive force that results in death. These are supposed to be publice servants, not public executioners. These officers need to be terminated and imprisoned for this crime. Until police officers are held accountable for their actions, more people will be murdered. It starts at the top. Bratton's war on the poor is a direct cause of this man's death.

Jackson Heights.

I supported cops all my life. And this time I'm devastated at them. They killed a man. Whether he was innocent or not the man told them he has asthma and can't breathe. Yet these officers still choke holding him and holding his face down another one on his head. I have asthma and that is dramatic. Theses cops were suppose to be here to protect us not kill us. The man said he has asthma and these still choking him. All the evidence is there on the video.


this is such despicable behavior. just another example of racism in plain sight in new york city. the amount of force exhibited was totally excessive and uncalled for. this is a race issue and to see it as anything but is ignorant.

Elizabeth from Manhattan

What investigation is needed. The video show an illegal choke hold that was banned by Bratton himself. Being a black man in NYC myself I understand Eric Gardner frustration about being arrest. The NYPD have this judge and executioner mentality. It's seems like we revisiting the 60s civil rights movements. Instead black vs white. It's colored versus NYPD just a few weeks ago a black man was arrested for sleeping on the F train. Have you ever seen a white man get arrested for sleeping on the metro north.


This is a tragic and sad event. No one deserves to die in this manner. The families of both the victim and the police officers will suffer forever. Whether the law is considered trivial, which it may very well be, he was still breaking the law. The victim had been arrested for these same issues many times and yet arrogantly continued the behaviors. Today unfortunately it didn't go right. Any time you break the law you are taking great risks.
No one, neither the police officers nor Eric Garner, intended this tragedy to happen.

Forest Hills, NY

Same old Same old they don't choke hold Wall Street Criminals they just have them write a check. Price of doing business. Poor person sells a Lucy choke hold him beat him it don't matter oops he's dead. We didn't mean to hurt him it was an accident.

Kenny Jackson Hts.

If you get choked to death by the cops for selling loosies, we might as well be under the rule of Vladmir Putin. BASTARDS!!!

East Village

Greetings. .the man was resisting arrest. I cant believe everyone is taking the mans side. No one put that person in the situation but him self. If law enforcement question you and suspect your doing something illegal. dont fight them and respect their authority and comply. He die due to his medical issues, not from a choke hold, you can not get a heart attack from a choke hold. Its amazing how everyone makes this a racial issue. Race was not a factor!


It is clear the police were effecting an arrest and the individual did resist and not comply with the officers. Please work is not routine and is a dangerous job. compliance by citizens is also important. There is a lack of respect for police officers. Police officers work hard to keep this city safe.


Dear John,

I moved to Staten Island in 2009 and it was so beautiful, clean, peaceful, and safe 24/7!

Within the last 30 days, I am so upset with the violence in my own neighborhood that I am going to be too scared to leave my building.

I am expecting the Borough President and elected officials to do something to stop violence.

Staten Island, New York

In my opinion it is tragic what happened to Eric. On a different note why is resisting arrest a norm these days. No one has respect for officers anymore which is compromising them on how to protect us. If you are stopped by an officer do what they ask and then get a lawyer. Why fight, curse, yell or talk back to the police. It just makes matters worse. They say how he wasn't aggressive but resisting arrest is aggressive to a police officer. It is tough to have a side because it is tragic what happened.


This is so sad and sickening to watch! The poor guy was not even aggressive, a damn shame for our city..may the gentleman rest in peace.


They should tried to handcuff him while standing first.

Flushing, Queens

This does not have to be about race, yet, if say a White person had behaved in the same manner, what are the chances someone would have intervened say a ranking officer to help diffuse the situation? Instead the opposite action was taken which resulted in a fatality; either out of incompetence or benign contempt...


The Police Officers are murders and should be treated as such.

The liberties that the police take in this city, in my option, are out if control and the death of one of our citizens is the most outrageous example of abuse of power that could happen. Ultimately this man was selling loose cigarettes- one of the least criminal actions out there. I don't even think that loose cigarette sales even warrant an arrest- a ticket at most. This attempt at an arrest for such a small infraction was also an example of abuse of power. The mans hands were up and he remained non threatening, and these cops escalated a non violent event to death. Absolutely unacceptable. CPR is the motto of the NYC police department. Curtsey, professionalism & respect. The cops have lost the meaning of these words.

Katie in Brooklyn

I am want to cry racism because unfortunately we forget that sometimes we perpetuate those stereotypes. but I find it hard to believe that a white man would have had his head smashed into the ground for such a small crime as selling Lucys. you could work for a company and still millions of dollars from someone to put them out the houses but the man selling Lucy's on a corner has his head smashed into the ground and choke to death. How is that fair. Its something wrong with that picture. and even if he has been caught for Lucy's repeatedly I truly believe that police officers only feel like they can get away with ur and minorities in such a manner. you could do something like that to midtown Manhattan. I seen a white guy the other day right in Manhattan send cigarettes do it with his buddies that you worked with him. police walking by and everything and say not one word to him.


So very sad. He was not hurting anyone and did not deserve such inhuman treatment. It is a very painful video to watch

West Brighton, Staten Island

I thought the Mayors and police Commissioners new initiative was for the police to go into the community to reach out to people, get to know them by name and to work together to fight violence. They might as well bring back "Stop and Frisk!"


Dear John Schiumo,

There are some other details that happened before the video. Full details can be found on SILive news site for the Staten Island Advance at this link.

He has three charges pending against him for more than just cigarettes including aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle, false personation and marijuana possession.

I do think the ‘choke hold’ was accidental and police procedures need to be reviewed for how to deal with these situations. But this is not racial, anyone saying only blacks get this treatment is wrong.

This is not a racial incident, one that went wrong. I believe police were trying to get Garner to tell them of the altercation he broke up and planned to take him to the precinct to question him about it. Things got out of hand and only part of the story is getting attention.

Also, not many know some of the details regarding how police treat different areas of Staten Island due to the crime rates of different shore areas.


The police commidsioner needs to resign nypd are animals no respect for life diblaso need to understand he has a son that looks like us .we as black/spanish ppl need to make these ppl start respecting us a ppl

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