Day 20 - Last Words: Eric Garner
"I can't breathe."
- Eric Garner, 1970-2014
In 2007 Eric Garner filed a handwritten complaint in federal court accusing a New York police officer of conducting a cavity search of him on the street, in public, while people passed by.
On July 17, 2014 he had just broken up a fight and was approached by a plainclothes officer, Daniel Pantaleo. A friend recorded their interaction, and Garner said, “Every time you see me you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. … I’m minding my business, officer. I’m minding my business. Please leave me alone.”
Pantaleo tried to handcuff Garner, who swatted away his arms. Pantaleo then put Garner in a "chokehold," which is prohibited by NYPD regulations. The arrest was supervised by an NYPD sergeant, Kizzy Adoni, who did not intervene in the illegal use of the chokehold. Officer Pantaleo pushed Garner to the ground, where he lay motionless, handcuffed, and unresponsive for several minutes.
On August 1, 2014, the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Garner’s death a homicide. On December 3, a grand jury decided not to indict Officer Pantaleo. In June 2015 the city of New York agreed to pay $5.9 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the relatives of Eric Garner. The last known words of Eric Garner are taken from a video recording taken by a friend on July 17, 2014.
Sources: New York Times, Washington Post