News & Politics

SHOCK VIDEO: Man Dies After NYPD Officer Puts Him In a Choke Hold

Internal Affairs is investigating the conduct of the officers at the scene.

An 400-pound New York man died suddenly yesterday after a New York City Police officer put him in a choke hold while other officers slammed his head into the concrete pavement.

Bystanders heard Eric Garner, 43, screaming as five officers took him down to the sidewalk on a Staten Island street. A video of the event shows Garner, who reportedly suffers from asthma, screaming “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” after the police took him down.

NYPD officials say that Garner was arrested several times for selling untaxed cigarettes and officers were observing him in the act of doing so yesterday, when they approached him. Garner told the police he was only trying to break up a fight, and then pulled away as officers tried to handcuff him. At that point, police attempted to subdue him and one officer approached him from behind and applied a choke hold with his forearm. 

Garner, a married father of six and a grandfather to two, then appeared to lose consciousness. At that time, policed called paramedics to the scene as an angry crowd gathered, some filming them with their cell phones.

The New York Daily News reports that Garner's wife later spoke to NYPD Internal Affairs detectives who told her they were getting involved in an investigation “because there is wrongdoing.”

Cliff Weathers is a former senior editor at AlterNet and served as a deputy editor at Consumer Reports. Twitter @cliffweathers.