Monday, December 15, 2014
If Eric Garner had not broken the law and then resisted arrest, he would be alive today
Eric Garner had been arrested 31 times. His rap sheet goes back decades and includes arrests for assault and grand larceny. At the time of his death, Garner was out on bail after being charged with multiple offenses, including illegal sale of cigarettes, marijuana possession, false impersonation and driving without a license. So he certainly knew the law, knew he was in violation, and knew doing it again would likely lead to his arrest, a drill that he'd been through dozens of times before. Garner, all six-foot, three inches and 350 pounds of him, clearly resisted arrest, swatting away the arresting officer's hands while loudly exclaiming, "Don't touch me!" After he was taken to the ground, he growled, "This ends here!" That could be taken any number of ways, but in the heat of the moment it certainly could be read reasonably as a declaration that he was going to fight arrest until he was subdued by compelling force. The patrolman who wrestled Garner to the ground, Daniel Pantaleo, did it by the book, using a takedown maneuver that every policeman is taught at the academy. He did not, in fact, use a chokehold, which is defined by the NYPD as "any pressure to the throat or windpipe, which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air." Now Garner was clearly able to breathe, since that's the only way he could repeatedly say, "I can't breathe." The autopsy explicitly declares that there was no injury to Garner's windpipe or to his neck bones. This was a wrestler's headlock, not a chokehold. (As a sidenote, chokeholds, while contrary to police policy, are not in fact illegal in the state of New York when an officer uses one to restrain a resisting subject. They are not even illegal in New York City, at the insistence of liberal mayor Bill DeBlasio.) Patrolman Pantaleo was not indicted for the simple reason that he did nothing wrong. Garner's death likely should be attributed to the fact that he himself suffered from severe asthma, something the arresting officers had no reason to know. According to Garner's friends, his asthma was severe enough that he was forced to quit his job as horticulturist for the city. He wheezed when he talked and could not walk so much as a city block without having to stop to rest. Garner "couldn't breathe" because of his asthma, not because of a chokehold. In addition, he suffered from heart disease, advanced diabetes, hypertension, obesity and sleep apnea. Contrary to public perception, he did not die on site, nor did he die of asphyxiation. He suffered cardiac arrest in the ambulance and was declared dead about an hour later at the hospital. So it turns out that almost everything claimed by the Sharptons and the leftist media has turned out to be wrong. Eric Garner and Michael Brown both fought the law, and the law won. In the end, they have no one to blame but themselves. There are many New Yorkers - politicians, activists, trial lawyers, all the usual suspects - who will now seek to profit from a tragedy that wouldn't have happened had Eric Garner made a different decision. He was a victim of himself. It's just that simple.