A New York man suffered a fatal heart attack while being tackled and put in a chokehold by a cadre of police officers Thursday. His alleged crime? Selling untaxed cigarettes and resisting arrest, according to the New York Daily News.
After being tackled to the ground, Eric Garner, 43 and father of six, struggled to say, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,” eight times, according to a witness’ video posted on Photography Is Not A Crime.
The altercation captured on camera by a bystander, took place after police saw Garner outside a Long Island convenience store, participating in what they described as a suspicious transaction.
“I’m tired of it. Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. This stops today,” Garner, who has been arrested more than 30 times for selling cigarettes illegally, told the officers, according to the Daily News report. “Everybody standing there will tell you that I didn’t do nothing. I didn’t sell nothing. … I’m minding my business, officer. I’m minding my business. Please just leave me alone.”
Following Garner’s plea, the plain-clothes officer tackled him. When backup officers arrived, Garner was put in a chokehold, and his face was pressed into the pavement.
“Once again, police beating up on people,” Ramsey Orta, who filmed the incident told the Daily News. “All he did was break up a fight. And this is what happens for breaking up a fight. This s*** is crazy.”
Garner, an asthmatic who weighs an estimated 350 to 400 lbs, suffered a heart attack during the arrest, according to the New York Post.
Orta’s video shows Garner being taken down and his body going limp.
NYPD issued the following statement regarding the incident:
“On Thursday, July 17, 2014 at approximately 1648 hours, police observed a 43-year-old male selling untaxed cigarettes in front of 202 Bay Street within the confines of the 120 Precinct. Upon attempting to arrest the suspect for the violation, the suspect went into cardiac arrest and was transported by EMS to Richmond University Medical Center where he was pronounced DOA. The Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death. The investigation is ongoing.”
The Staten Island district attorney has released a statement saying his office is investigating the incident.
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