The Eric Garner video, showing a NYPD officer choking a man to death as he pleaded that he could not breathe, has led to outrage across both New York and the nation and calls for justice against the officer who killed Garner.
Now it could lead to even more dire consequences for the officer who placed what appeared to be an illegal chokehold.
The video captured an incident from this week in which police argued with the 43-year-old Garner. As the more than 300-pound Garner pleaded with them to leave him alone, a police officer grabbed Garner from behind and placed him in a choke hold.
Garner fell to the ground, shouting “I can’t breathe” eight times as officers pinned him to the pavement. The video then showed officers calling paramedics as an angry crowd shouted at the officers. Garner never regained consciousness, and died at a hospital nearby.
The Eric Garner video quickly went viral, with coverage from news outlets across the country. It has also led to protests, with Rev. Al Sharpton leading a rally on Saturday in New York.
Friends remembered Eric Garner as something of a gentle giant, noting that he had just broken up a fight before officers targeted him for selling untaxed cigarettes.
“We need more courtesy and professional respect,” said a friend, Jonathan DeGroat. “Justice needs to be served or there will never be peace.”
Sharpton was joined by Garner’s family members, including his widow Esaw Garner.
The video even prompted New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to delay a planned vacation to meet with police leaders. De Blasio said he was troubled by what he saw.
“I watched it the same way a family member would watch it, and it was very sad to watch,” de Blasio said.
The person who shot the Eric Garner video claims that he warned officers of his health before the incident even started. The 6-foot-5 Garner was reportedly asthmatic.
“Before they even grabbed him, he told them he wasn’t feeling good and that’s why I pulled the camera out and started recording,” said Ramsey Orta.
The video could lead to charges against the officer involved, 8-year-veteran Daniel Pantaleo. As CBS News noted, other NYPD officers have been prosecuted for using a chokehold, which is against NYPD regulations.
The Eric Garner video has already led to consequences for Pantaleo, who was stripped of his gun and badge this week pending an investigation of Garner’s death.