THE IMAGE was horrific. An unarmed father of six, choked from behind by a police officer on a Staten Island street corner.
As his life slipped away, Eric Garner repeatedly gasped the words that would come to define the encounter: “I can’t breathe.”
Though Garner repeated that fateful phrase 11 times, Officer Daniel Pantaleo, the man whose chokehold killed Garner, did not let him go. In fact, Pantaleo pushed Garner’s face into the sidewalk as three more officers held Garner’s arms and feet.
This is how a husband and father died on a busy New York street. I know this because the entire incident was caught on cellphone video. That video was viewed not only by the grand jury that declined to indict Pantaleo in Garner’s death last week. That video was viewed by all of us.
The New York City Medical Examiner’s Office found that the chokehold killed Garner. The office went on to say that Garner’s acute and chronic bronchial asthma and other health issues were contributing factors in his death. They ruled his death a homicide, and, in my view, they ruled correctly.
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Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Solomonjones.com and morning host on 900 am WURD radio. Click here to learn more about Solomon