Eric Garner, the 43-year-old dad who was choked to death by a New York City police officer in an incident caught on video July 17, was killed due to a police "vendetta" over a complaint Garner had filed in which Garner alleged that police shook him down for money, according to statements by Garner's stepfather, Benjamin Carr, in an interview for an upcoming documentary.
Carr was in the news in early December when TV cameras recorded him calming an outraged protester in the immediate aftermath of a New York City grand jury decision exonerating Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer who placed Eric Garner in what proved to be a fatal chokehold.
While it has been widely reported that police initially approached Garner that day in July because he was allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes, Carr says in the interview that the cops told Garner that the real reason they were confronting him was "a personal matter."
"I'd like to know what that personal matter is," Carr says.
The stepfather of Eric Garner also says that police had been shaking down Eric Garner — who had previously been charged with unauthorized cigarette sales on several occasions — and that Garner got sick of it and filed a complaint.
On the video which ends with his death in Pantaleo's chokehold, Garner is seen becoming angry with the officers, accusing them of repeated harassment.
"Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I'm tired of it. It stops today. I'm minding my business please just leave me alone," he says.
According to members of Garner's family contacted by The Free Thought Project, Garner had been the victim of numerous cases of police harassment and even sexual assault by the police officers.
Indeed, Pantaleo, 29, had been sued three times for misconduct involving his treatment of suspects, including one lawsuit which alleged that Pantaleo and other officers conducted "humiliating and unlawful strip searches in public view."
Two men handcuffed by Pantaleo and the other police charged that the cops, "pulled down the plaintiffs' pants and underwear, and touched and searched their genital areas, or stood by while this was done in their presence."
The two men who sued in that case maintained they were arrested for no reason, and charges against them were ultimately dismissed.
In the documentary footage, an interviewer asks Benjamin Carr if he believes Eric Garner was killed because he was black.
"I wouldn't really say because Eric was a black man. It's due to the fact that they stole money from him and refused to give him his money, and he filed charges against them," Carr replied. "This is why they had a vendetta against him."