To Honor Eric Garner’s Life, Reform the Police

Bill de Blasio must do what should have been done years ago: fire Daniel Pantaleo.

Comments: 207

  1. The NYPD is a country unto itself within New York City, like Vatican City is to Italy, and truth is that our government and citizens have very little real authority over our police. The police do what they want (mostly), and they do so without oversight or consequences. We are a city occupied by a standing army.

  2. I lived all my life in New York City before emigrating to Mexico nine years ago. I can testify that every word of your post is true. I can verify numerous occasions of being dissed by the cops. And I'm white. For black people it's many times worse.

  3. Will we see an editorial admonishing resistance to arrest to ALL our citizens as well? It’s unfortunate that Mr Garner lost his life over this confrontation but if he had complied he might very well be alive today. As I understand this event, the police were responding to a complaint of habitual criminal activity in front of a store. I’m assuming the activity was very apparent as calling the police is often done as a last resort. Y the owners for fear of repercussions when the police are not around. It takes two to tango as they say. Mr Garner should not have lost his life but it’s also not fair to paint him as an upright citizen leading the cause of civil rights. Punishing the officer won’t bring Mr Garner back but maybe changing the use a chokehold in his name would be a more appropriate gesture.

  4. "Police were responding to a complaint of habitual criminal activity?" Fact: Eric Garner sold "loosies" --- one or two cigarettes. According to the Times, "He had been arrested twice already that year near the same spot, in March and May, charged both times with circumventing state tax law." If this is a crime, every clerk in every bodega in my neighborhood ought to be in jail. For more facts about the real crime here:

  5. Apparently he died from cardiac arrest in the ambulance, not from strangulation.

  6. Nobody said he should die. Sometimes people do die even when they shouldn’t. The biggest disparity in all of these cases is the subject is resisting arrest, evading, or behaving in an otherwise uncooperative or threatening manner. That is the distinction.

  7. I feel that all you say is true. As I understand it, Mr. Garner was a large person who had refused arrest before this event that led to his death. If two or three officers couldn't restrain him for the purpose of his arrest, why not send a bigger team or squad of officers to do it? Who was the boss and why did he (or she) not value Mr. Garners life more highly? What was the objective of the police action that day?

  8. When a police officer is charged with homicide, the case turns on the facts and the law. We get the facts from many sources, some sympathetic to the victim, some sympathetic to the officer. The victim isn't there, of course, and we only hear from the officer if he testifies at trial. In the Garner case, the key legal issue is whether the officer believed it was reasonable to choke Garner as he did. In that regard: did the officer believe he was using deadly force; if not, did Garner's reaction change that fact; and if so, should the officer have reasonably understood he was using excessive force. What carries the day at trial is what the officer initially intended and whether he should reasonably have understood that changed circumstances made the chokehold unreasonable. If the case goes to trial, there will be witnesses for and against the officer and the officer himself, should he choose to testify. The officer's testimony is usually a game breaker. Most people think the lack of convictions in cases like this is about racism and the police protecting the officer on trial. But the law generally requires acquittal if the officer reasonably believed the force he used was necessary. He will testify that he acted reasonably. And no one else knows what he was thinking. Under the law, it is an uphill battle to convict an officer of a homicide. Racial prejudice and corrupt police are important. But the law of officer self defense is hard to overcome.

  9. michjas -- the choke hold is a banned police procedure in NYC. Officer Pantaleo denied using a choke hold. Nobody made any effort to revive him, after he went unconscious, and was clearly not breathing. The medical examiner concluded that Garner was killed by "compression of neck, compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police". No damage to Garner's windpipe or neck bones was found. The medical examiner ruled Garner's death a homicide. All of the above are uncontested facts.

  10. In this case there was no trial. The DA opted not to indict anyone. And then the grateful population of Staten Island elected that DA, as a GOP Representative, to Congress. Do you need to connect dots?

  11. What self-defense? Garner did not attack or provoke Pantaleo. In fact -- FACT-- the video shows that he just wanted to be left alone. But the officer would not have any of that. So, essentially, Pantaleo was only "defending" his authority and he killed a man as a result. Coward.

  12. to honor his life, let's also teach our kids not to resist arrest. The vast vast majority of those who died at the hands of cops have been armed, resisting, or had a history of mental illness. The statistics are eye opening if you haven't read them. Before we complain about brutality, let's make sure we understand how few people die at police hands that are not armed or resisting.

  13. A history of mental illness? Do you and the police seriously consider an individual with a history of mental illness can justifiably be choked to death. What kind of society promotes such protections for law enforcement officers?

  14. @Jerry Engelbach Less than 1000 Americans were killed by police in 2017. Murderers killed 17,250 Americans in 2018. Negligent or incompetent or uncaring "health care professionals" killed about 400,000 Americans. I think you lack perspective.

  15. the police shouldn't have firearms? is this serious, or trolling? Perhaps they should die at the hands of those arrestees that are armed? Blue lives don't matter?

  16. Unless the autopsy report, which only the grand jury saw, revealed signs of strangulation, there is no basis to fire Pantaleo. Despite the immediate acceptance of the video as showing evidence of police malfeasance, there is none . The officers arm was not obstructing Mr. Garner's airway since he was able to speak. The entire time the officer's arm was around Mr. Garner's upper torso or neck was about 20 seconds, which is not long enough to cause death or unconsciousness. Without the autopsy report that definitively diagnosis strangulation, we have to withhold judgment. The conclusion that death was a result of homicide could also mean that Mr. Garner died of a heart attack as the result of the encounter, something no one could have predicted would be the outcome.

  17. One valid reason to fire him is he can be a liability for the department. Look what happened to Darren Wilson.

  18. Once again, we don't know the details of the autopsy. I believe all the ME said was that it was homicide. Look it up, that does not mean murder. It simply means that death was due to a human action. We just don't know the cause of death. If the autopsy did show strangulation I would agree with you.

  19. Officer Pantaleo absolutely should be fired, but collective bargaining agreements make it virtually impossible to fire police officers in this state. The solution: police should not be allowed to join unions or, at least, police unions should be allowed to bargain only on economic issues, and employment should otherwise be “at will.”

  20. The NYPD has done everything it could to cover up corruption, malfeasance, and various acts of outrageous abuse, and no mayor has been willing to stand up to them and say enough is enough. The fact that the NYPD can keep disciplinary records of public servants secret is an appalling violation of the public’s trust and our right to know how our resources are being managed. It’s especially galling as it concerns the NYPD because we know that it has been riddled with poor management and corruption from way back in the Serpico era and beyond. The evidence is incontrovertible. How many times must we do this pathetic dance before someone in city government takes the necessary steps to bring our police department under proper supervision and control? The NYPD should not serve as an occupying force free to violate civil and human rights as they please without being held accountable to our elected leaders, just as our military is accountable to our civilian president. If Mayor de Blasio is too cowed to take steps to make the NYPD more transparent and accountable for its conduct, then let’s get a mayor who’s not afraid to take it on! How many more people must die or be brutalized by NYPD officers before we get the change we deserve?!

  21. People are not brutalized by the police. People are brutalized by criminals. And that’s why the sympathies lie where they do.

  22. The caption beneath the photo of Mr. Garner's mother states in part that she " still waiting for that officer [Pantaleo] to be held accountable." Back in 2014 a state grand jury considered the evidence in the matter and declined to indict Officer Pantaleo, so in fact he has been held accountable. It seems the NYT Editorial Board, which has not seen the evidence, believes it is in a better position than the grand jury to render a decision in this matter. The title of this opinion piece is "To Honor Eric Garner's Life, Reform the Police." While reform of police policies and practices may be warranted in NYC and elsewhere, this piece fails to explain why we should honor Mr. Garner's life. I have no criminal record other than a handful of parking and traffic tickets over a period of many decades. As far back in my childhood as I can remember I always somehow knew it was a bad idea to give a policeman a hard time, much less to resist arrest. No one in my family or at school taught me this; none of my friends or family members was ever arrested; I suppose I just learned through church, movies, TV and newspapers that if you break the law or tangle with the police there will be negative consequences. I think the real tragedy here is that it is likely Mr. Garner might be alive today if he had not resisted arrest.

  23. That this needs to be said is a sad reflection on Mon Ray but here goes: a person should not die because he or she is resisting arrest. Can you imagine the carnage were that true?

  24. The Medical Examiner Office ruled Eric Garner death a homicide, but homicides are not necessarily murders. Pantaleo was not the officer in charge during Garner’s arrests. He was one of five officers who grappled with Garner, who the video shows was clearly resisting arrest. Medical Examiner Office spokeswoman Julie Bolcer told the news media that Garner death was caused by the “compression of his neck (chokehold), compression of his chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police” and asthma, heart disease and obesity were contributing factors. So according to the Medical Examiner Office, the police officers who positioned Garner in a prone position are just as responsible for Garner’s death as Officer Daniel Pantaleo, the officer accused of applying the chokehold. However a press release is not evidence. The grand jury testimony was sealed. No one knows what the medical examiner told the grand jury when he was asked the cause of Garner death, but it seems obvious he didn’t say that Pantaleo choked Garner to death. According to the New York Times, the autopsy report showed no damage to Garner’s windpipe or the small neck bones that are typically crushed when a person is choked to death. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said at a press conference that Garner was alive when placed in the ambulance and died of a cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital. If Pantaleo had choked Garner to death, how could he still be alive when he was placed in the ambulance?

  25. The medical examiner's report said that the compression of Garner's neck and chest are what led directly to his death. "Homicide" means that some person was responsible for the death of another.

  26. No. It did not. The New York City Medical Examiner's Office report stated "Cause of Death: Compression of neck, compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police" and "Contributing Conditions: "Acute and chronic bronchial asthma; Obesity; Hypertensive cardiovascular disease."

  27. William: Cause of death and Manner of death are two different findings. Apparently the report stated that the Cause was compression, etc., with some "contributing factors," and the Manner of death was Homicide, meaning that a person or persons killed him, in other words those compressions, which caused his death, were done by people, not, for example, an accidental building collapse.

  28. De Blasio obviously made some deal with the cops and now he's just whipped. There are several cops that should have been fired. The one with the history of racist violence against innocent citizens who beat up the tennis player? Remember him? Got a slap on the wrist. I couldn't vote for de Blasio the last time around because of this very issue. He caved. Just like Mark Warner caved to Gina Haspel. Just like Schumer caves on everything. When are Democrats going to get spines?

  29. Who on earth thinks we need to honor Eric Garner, he was a criminal and his death was the result of at most a tactical misjudgment, not murder. The case is closed. Dan Pantaleo is a dedicated and passionate officer, he should be the one honored.

  30. Pantaleo has, what, four abuse charges on his record? Don’t know about you, but I’d rather have cops who don’t make beating up on citizens part of their policing toolkit. Funny how everyone wants to drag Garner’s record up, but ignores Pantaleo’s.

  31. It really depends on the neighborhoods in which the officer works and the types of criminal activity he has to investigate. Certainly an oncologist is going to have a higher mortality rate then a pediatrician. Reasonable depends on the work you do and the particular challenges you are confronted with. And certainly there is a predictable retaliation of complaining about police brutality.

  32. Critical call to action. Thank you.

  33. I look forward to the NYTimes editorial encouraging people to cooperate with police, not resist arrest, and to let the system work.

  34. Mr. Engelbach: According to WaPo, less than 1000 Americans were killed by police in 2017, while 17,250 were killed by murderers. And it was estimated that in 2017 close to 400,000 Americans died as a result of medical errors/malpractice/neglect, which doesn't seem to bother liberals or NYT at all.

  35. me, Your "whatabouthis" arguments are specious. Any unjustified killing by police is a unacceptable and should be prosecuted. What priorities you imagine liberals or the NY Times have are irrelevant to the fact of police brutality.

  36. There is no easy solution to the problem of fearful police officers using excessive...sometimes lethal...force when the alleged perpetrators are non-white. There is a strong bias in favor of excusing the deaths of far too many non-white civilians at the hands of police because the alternative...harsh punishment for police who use what appears to be excessive force...will result in a knee-jerk refusal on the part of police to enforce the laws. That action is the "nuclear response" for police officers who feel in danger almost all the time when doing their jobs in certain neighborhoods. The only viable solution is for the office of police commissioner and the police union to be a part of creating a new sense of community in inner city neighborhoods where the feelings of alienation created by a lack of community are so strong you can cut them with a knife.

  37. I appreciate the balanced view point. However I think it is impossible to create a sense of cohesive community in a neighborhood where drive-by shootings and major drug and domestic violence is far more obstructive to any kind of cohesion or cooperation with the police than police bias.

  38. "... However I think it is impossible to create a sense of cohesive community in a neighborhood where drive-by shootings..." Maybe, but it isn't really being tried. Part of our problem is that we put all the responsibility on law enforcement. We need funding and commitment of other institutions of our society. Big-time.

  39. There has been a national epidemic of people of color being subjected to harsh treatment for minor infractions or no infractions at all. Much time has passed in NYC since this sad incidents occurred with no justice being served. It is past time for the Mayor of NYC to take control of the situation and fire the offending police officer. While this seems to be necessary it is far from the justice that is deserved. But it is a start!

  40. While Mr. Gardner’s death was tragic, blaming it on a “choke hold” that stopped when Mr.Garner went to the ground, is equally tragic. Mr. Gardner uttered his now famous phrase, I can’t breath after this neck hold ended, proving manual strangulation had nothing to do with his death. Perhaps the blame for his death was driven by an ME with a political viewpoint. Remember he was handcuffed and held down by multiple police officers. He was also extremely obese. Without any predicate “choke hold” many arrested persons who have actively resisted arrest by multiple officers and were obese have died from positional asphyxia or heart attack. Stop blaming an event that had little to do with this person’s death as it was finished long before he died. Stop looking to make this officer a scapegoat.

  41. By yours and (and the medical examiners logic) the fault ultimately lies with Eric Garner. If he had not been committing a crime and if he had not resisted when he was being lawfully arrested he would be alive today. So any way you look at this Eric Garner's death is his own fault.

  42. My entire life, I have always been amazed at the - largely GOP - members of our society who do not mind when a low-educated (and, yes, they are .. normal PD are not the sharpest tools in the shed - we all knew them on high school) goon kills them, for no reason. I mean, every time, it's: 'Well, if they just did what the officer wanted, they would not be dead'. Not. Good. Enough. If a cop is not willing to RISK his life, in the performance of his duty - then RESIGN, you little snowflakes! WHY do we honor cops? Think about it. We honor them *precisely* because they think of other people, before themselves. NOT because they are soooo scared, that four of them choke a fat guy to DEATH in broad daylight, for selling cigs. Cops today are the weakest people I have ever met. Thin-skinned, scared of the job they took of their own volition and sooo ready to kill the rest of us. I am a professional white guy ... never really bothered that much by the racist cops who wink at me like I am part of their group. Disgusts me. So, go ahead GOPers: scream about Big Gov't when it wants to bring health care to people, but give the green light to police and military killers ... because, you know, 'That's America!'. Deplorables, indeed.

  43. Everyone is a liberal until they get mugged.

  44. Jennifer, that's nonsense at both ends.

  45. I can tell you don’t have any cops in your family. Applicants are heavily screened and intensively trained. Their records have to be pretty squeaky clean and that’s not easy to achieve. The screening is to find “rule followers.” People who evade police, assault police, resist arrest, etc. are definitely NOT “rule followers.” Who are you defending? I bet you wouldn’t last one week on the mean streets of Oakland. You’d flip so fast- one assault.

  46. “To Honor Eric Garner”??? Why? Is there any doubt that Mr. Garner, a grossly obese man with asthma, would be alive today if he had not broken the law and resisted arrest? Hopefully, that is, as his daughter has since passed away at age 27 from a heart condition. Maybe the best way to “honor” him would be to remind folks to take care of themselves, to obey the law and if you can’t do either of these, to think twice before you decide to resistarrest.

  47. Nobody said he deserved to die. Why do you assert that? If I cross the street without looking both ways and get hit by a car, I am still in the right. But I am also dead. Why put yourself in a position that can get you killed?

  48. Eric Garner would probably be dead of a heart attack by now, even if he had not resisted arrest.

  49. This mind of a white, senior citizen is seared with that policeman's massive arm, bulging, straining, bulging, straining, holding Eric Garner down and Mr. Garner saying "I can't breathe. I can't breathe." New York City a beautiful city for white people not so much for black people and certainly not for obese, somewhat?, middle age black people selling a few cigs. Give me a break. And thanks NYC police for poisoning my mind. Shame on you.

  50. If police are required to let go of suspects every time they claim to be hurt or have trouble breathing, then every suspect and perpetrator will make that claim at every apprehension. There’s just no way around that. It already happens. And when the police let up, the suspect either runs or uses the moment to assault the police. I wish you understood how much the police are assaulted every day. Every honest effort is exploited by bad actors.

  51. Complete nonsense. The police are unnecessarily brutal. Justifying that brutality by claiming that every suspect will now claim to be choking and then run away is a ridiculous stretch. The chokehold is against departmental policy, so even the cops don't agree with you. And please don't try to give us a lesson about how many police are assaulted every day. That's no excuse for their brutality.

  52. The reality is that if there are no police, or if police are forbidden from physically restraining possible criminals, then law abiding citizens will have no protection whatsoever from ruthless, violent predators who don't mind harming others, including seniors.

  53. Wrong. An eye for an eye.

  54. How about prosecute Daniel Pantaleo.

  55. Then they can't use this incident as a political maneuver. Disgusting.

  56. To better assess where to place accountability, let's do some math. The U.S. DOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics says there are some 1.2 million individuals employed by some 18,000 state and local police departments. While individual accountability is always important, the math suggests that efforts would have greater and more efficient reward by looking higher up the food chain, i.e., to the 18,000 departments. Even higher up the food chain are the nation's ~200 law schools accredited by an ABA-related affiliate. Products of these law schools are the ones providing the legal advice and the judicial decisions in which conduct is sorted out as to acceptable or not. Even higher up the food chain is the U.S. Department of Education, the one-window which governs the results of that accreditation process. The DOE determines the financial viability of the legal education centers, i.e., whether they qualify for access to financial assistance. Think 'cartel.' Change the rules at this one DOE window, or at the one window of the ABA-affiliate (yes, the ABA claims the entity is not an ABA affiliate), or even change the rules at the !200 accredited legal education centers, and the conduct of the 18,000 police departments and their 1.2 million employees will change. Or continue putting police and public alike in harm's way without better guidance.

  57. Why is the only name on the NY Times list of people who need to be fired the guy at the bottom of the heap. Sure, he's responsible, but so are his co-workers, the high-ups in his precinct house and so on up the famous NYPD chain of command. Isn't this focus on the bottom a loud, clear message to people who should be responsible for what's going on and for changing it in a systematic way that business as usual is basically fine - it's just a few bad apples that need to be found? Can we really believe that?

  58. One step to honoring Mr. Garner would be to bring legislation to end the policy of hiding disciplinary records under Section 50-a. Especially since the is now arguing that body camera footage is private under the same statute.

  59. Why do you want to honor someone who tried to evade arrest?

  60. Because Garner represents a whole lot of people who commit minor infractions of the law just to survive and are dealt draconian punishment. When you got a ticket for speeding you were endangering lives. Garner wasn't. What was your punishment?

  61. Pantaleo should be sent to prison for as many years as any black man would have to serve for choking someone to death. Firing him is would be a mercy he so does not deserve.

  62. Firing him means he loses his pension and benefits. That’s why rogue cops “retire” or resign instead of risking getting fired. When they “retire” or resign they keep all pension and benefits.

  63. But he wasn't choked to death. The hold was released when it could be. I am qualified to serve on the Civilian Complaint Board and spoke up personally what Amadou Diallo was killed entering his home. This case is not so clearly out of line with the police purpose to respond to crime.

  64. The ME determined that Garner's death was caused by his being choked and crushed. The only relevance I see to the death of Amadou Diallo is that both he and Garner were murdered by cops.

  65. Why does a minor crime result in the death of dark-skinned men?
    It may be cop mindset: they kill because things don’t make sense.
    .Stealing $1 million makes “sense”, stealing a dime doesn’t - at least to a guy making a good salary with a pension after 25 OTJ.
    Look at a couple of homicides by cops: In New York, we have the use of a choke hold to kill a guy for something that shouldn’t be a crime - selling cigarettes one at a time to make a profit of maybe $10 a pack, assuming a 50-cent/smoke markup,
    I bet it never entered the cops’ minds that some folks want a smoke, but can’t afford 20 - but the seller won’t even earn bus fare.!
    Now dealing heroin, there’s an income figure $5/sale, $50 an hour in a good spot.!that would make “sense”. They know the rules, quiet arrest made, he let’s ‘em search for weapons. First bust pleabargained.year at most, cost of doing business . He’s been clearing $50/hour - a salary, mot $5/hour max on cigarettes.
    A property crime, a couple of car windows broken. Cops send a helicopter. For vandalism. Chopper cameras get a great look at the suspect, and spot a rectangular object, not gun. Follow the guy - air & cars until je burns out, walk over and cuff him.
    But cops run, breathing hard. So reved up team puts 8 shots in his back.
    NEW RULE: no death for petty or property crime.
    Property’s replasib

  66. COMMON SENSE : Don't commit crimes

  67. Why does the NYTimes make no mention of the officer in charge, while Eric Garner lay on the ground? Mr. Garner was alive and breathing well after the arresting officer released his hold.

    Could it be that the officer in charge is not mentioned because she is African-American? She stated that Mr. Garner did not seem to be in distress, and she was in charge.

    In order to say, "I can't breathe," you must in fact be able to breathe.

    Why does the NY Times find no fault with the behavior of NYPD sergeant Kizzy Adoni, who was in fact in charge of Mr. Garner's well-being at the time of his death?

    Should NYPD have done a better job of making sure the morbidly obese Mr. Garner was okay? Yes. Should NYPD have known that a severely overweight person was a increased risk when handcuffed behind their back? Yes.

    Sergeant Adoni was in charge while NYPD showed such callus disregard for the well-being of Eric Garner. Apparently, her race and gender earns her a pass from the Times.

  68. Then the officer lacked the intent to murder. He couldn't have predicted heart failure, so I don't even see a manslaughter charge.

    What else could you say except that he did his duty and brought down a resisting suspect?

  69. We should never forget that the maintenance of a police force in our society is nothing better than a necessary evil. It is always an evil, however necessary it may be. There is nothing normal, let alone desirable, in a situation in which one set of citizens is authorized to walk around freely, threatening everyone else with deadly violence.

    When such a state of affairs is inevitable, as is the case here in our city, of course the civilian population deserve to be assured that the police are well regulated and liable to punishment for any abuse of their power. It's intolerable that the police feel they can with impunity threaten, beat up, even kill those whose well-being they are supposed to be committed to.

  70. Reform the police? How many thousands of police officers are working/serving in New York city alone? 44,000. There are baddies everywhere and to knee jerk to "reform the police" is ridiculous. No one will ever be perfect. Should this particular police officer be punished? By all means.

  71. Never any calls to reform public behavior.

  72. The problem is systemic, because far too many officers are merely given slaps on the wrist. Cops cover for each other, etc. This creates a toxic environment where cops understand they can 'be' bad and 'do' bad, and that their peers, their department heads, even the courts, will cover for them and downplay their level of complicity and guilt.

    You say there are 'baddies everywhere'? Well wouldn't that same rule would apply to other first-world countries? So then why is it that the US is among the worst countries in the 'first-world' for police brutality, for citizens being killed by cops, and for having one of the highest prison rates in the world?

    So yes, we do need to reform the police, from the top down, from the bottom up, and we also need to abolish our disgraceful For Profit prison system.

    I live near Rikers Island, one of the most corrupt prisons in the US. And the sign at the entrance to the prison reads 'Home of New York City's Boldest'..... 'Boldest', meaning 'correction officers'. Boldest?? Are you kidding me? If that right there doesn't say it all, about the mentality of most people who become cops or prison guards in the US.

    We have many instances of testosterone-fueled 'plain clothes' cops overreacting and gunning down civilians. 'Forced entries' done at the WRONG HOME, and the innocent party dies of heart attack. 'Bounty hunters'. High-speed police chases over a simple 'stolen car', resulting in innocent people dying. #PoliceState

  73. I agree. It was insulting to the family and to the NYPD that he was kept on the force. The video shows how truly incompetent he and the other officers were in handling the situation. You can't cut this guy any slack, there wasn't even a gun involved. He should have gone to jail but he MUST be fired. He should find some other occupation. He should not be allowed to have a gun. He cannot control himself in stressful situations.

  74. "A state grand jury declined to indict Officer Pantaleo on homicide charges in 2014."

    There's the story in a nutshell. Apparently the NYT Editorial Board regards itself as a tribunal vastly superior to the courts and the criminal justice system.

  75. Presented with a cop charged with a crime, a DA has an inherent conflict of interest, as the one who helps the cops indict the people they arrest.

    An independent/special counsel for each jurisdiction with a police department, who can decide whether to indict police without a sword over their head, would end this nonsense and bring long-delayed (and denied) justice. Right now the DA has to worry that bringing a case means they don't get further evidence or support from police—or gets targeted by smears (or far worse) from the indicted cop's fellow well-armed racists. (Birds of a feather help stay employed together.)

    Until we have cop-crime special counsels, "but he wasn't indicted!" doesn't count as innocence for a cop who's evidently murdered someone—which means we don't *have* a criminal justice system the NYT could be "vastly superior" to.

  76. In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups. The police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These two groups work closely together. It is not suprising that New York district attorneys will not prosecute New York police officers without overwhelming evidence.

  77. Given the numerous miscarriages of justice by the system, many of us not only feel superior to it but despise it.

  78. Without a doubt, Eric Garner would be alive today had he not resisted arrest. He showed little regard for the law and law enforcement. Garner had been arrested by the NYPD more than thirty times since 1980 on charges such as assault, resisting arrest, and grand larceny.

  79. This is a sincere question: how can you shout if you can't breath?

  80. Sincere answer - you can’t. Shouting = breathing.
    But there’s no sensationalism and anti-police fun in the truth.

  81. I'm a retired San Francisco Police Officer. I know that cops occasionally commit bad acts--sometimes mistakenly in the heat of the moment and at other times with a malignant intent. I have no inside notion of what happened in this case.

    What I'd like to offer--after many years of trying to "explain" policing, is for John and Jane Resident to apply for a "ride along" with their local police departments.

    Of course officers will be on good behavior, but observers can get a better idea of how things look in real time. And in turn, officers can have the chance to tell their stories.

    At the end of the day--or night, my experience is that cops and observers have a better understanding of each other's take on an impossible job.

  82. Cops protecting incompetent cops.

  83. Two points. 1. We know how "hard" it can be on the streets. We live there. 2. While it's not always the case this time there was a video showing that Eric was killed for not charging taxes on the cigarettes he was selling. He wasn't even violent. He resisted but didn't attack. None of his crimes deserved death. None of them. This isn't his fault.

  84. Jocko, as a cop, why would you and your fellow officers trust a policeman who can't keep his cool under a not-exactly-dire situation like this? Too many racist posters here rant about how Garner deserved to die because "someday" he might snap. Well, what guarantee do cops have that someone like Panteleo won't someday lose it? How can cops stand for the law if they protect police who are a danger to them as well as the public?

  85. The police union has de Blasio by the you-know-what. He's caved into their demands and power. So much for him being a liberal. The best and only thing that will work is to decertify/de-ubnionize the police force. Maybe strengthening the civilian board will work and jail any cop(s) that either goes on strike or a stages work slow down. What a wimp of a mayor NYC has.

  86. It would seem that "Officer" Daniel Pantaleo has in interesting history indeed, including at least two lawsuits involving illegal strip searches of male suspects. It's public information, so if you're interested, do the research.

  87. An amazing bit of liberal drivel. Bill de Blasio has learned to stay hands off from his Police Force because he knows they are the only ones that keep New York safe. The notion that he should go back four years and fire a police officer who was trying to subdue a dangerous felon is ridiculous.

    And as for the other examples of police brutality? Also liberal poppycock, involving officers who were later exonerated for their actions.

    Liberal detest race peace and equality. They are DELIGHTED to create fictional abuses and then parade them as fact. Sad.

    Somewhere, Adolf Ochs is weeping.

  88. well said

  89. Refusing to prosecute is not the same as exonerating.

    How naive to not understand the close relationship of cops, prosecutors, and judges.

  90. The lack of intellectual honest and empathy on both sides of this issue is honestly startling. Preventable deaths are never OK and there was no need for Walter Scott, Eric Garner, or Philando Castile to die. Even if we write these off as mistakes, in what other profession would serious (often repeat) mistakes be tolerated?

    That said, it's important to acknowledge that policing is a tough, thankless, dangerous job. Today police officers are expected to track down dangerous criminals (who are armed to the teeth with ridiculous guns) while dealing with people who may be on drugs or having a mental breakdown. Oh, and you'd better be multicultural or at least bilingual too. In other words, all you need to be is a body guard, weapons expert, private investigator, mental health counselor who speaks multiple languages and is great under pressure. How is that a reasonable expectation of normal men and women?

    When you routinely put people under high stress situations (often alone and often working overtime), bad things will happen. The unfortunate reality of the current anti-police rhetoric is that it all but insures a lack of funding to better train and staff police departments (and to increase wages to attract the type of top-tier people who might actually be able to do all the tasks a police officer is asked to handle).

  91. there's a big blue line that needs to be crossed to extend some long overdue good will

  92. Eric Garner died of a heart attack, on the street, and it was all captured on video. When the shooter of the video said, "the police done gave that man a seizure" one to this day has suggested Eric Garner ever had a seizure disorder, and what we witnessed was no seizure, Eric Garner was having a massive, fatal heart attack in the street. The neck restraint used by officer Pantaleo was not a choke hold as the NY Times continues to say it was. The neck restraint is taught in the police academy.

    You have to ask yourself, did the officers break the law or violate department policy? The answer is yes, but not where you think. They knew Eric was dead on the scene and they continued to talk to him as if he was alive and EMS did the same. I think the reason they put on this show for the crowd was because they were afraid of the crowd turning against them as this happened right after Ferguson. Regardless, they NYPD showed a lack of leadership on the scene, and the EMS crew reported that he died in the ambulance on during transport to the hospital. They were all suspended three days later.

    No individual officer broke the law. You also have to recognize that once a police officer told Mr Garner he was under arrest, and he resisted, Eric Garner was responsible for his actions and the consequences. No one else.

  93. First off, just because something is legal doesn't mean that it's right, that it's just, or that it's acceptable.

    Second, no, once the police initiated use of force against Mr. Garner, THEY became responsible for the consequences. He was clearly upset, and there was a clear moment when they were jostling him from both sides when they should have backed off and deescalated the situation.

    Instead, Officer Panteleo deliberately stepped into Mr. Garner's blind spot, further frightening him, then grabbed him around the neck from behind. And instead of deescalating the situation after throwing him to the ground, the other officers instead piled onto Mr. Garner as he gasped for air and said, "I can't breathe".

    Mr. Garner had ZERO control over the situation. He was backed into a corner and facing time in jail which he likely could not afford (most people cannot) for a nonviolent crime that did not warrant such. He was being physically threatened by armed officers. His palpable fear was entirely reasonable.

    What was not reasonable was killing him in the street for being afraid.

  94. What RD has written above can most accurately be described as "speculative fiction", a story made up of only the portions of the truth the storyteller finds palatable. It's a close relative of outright lying.

  95. You state, "You also have to recognize that once a police officer told Mr Garner he was under arrest, and he resisted, Eric Garner was responsible for his actions and the consequences. No one else."

    Wow! Really?

    So, once a civilian resists arrest all bets are off and it's okay for police to choke the person to death? By your logic, Michael Slager, the South Carolina police officer who shot Walter Scott in the back five times, was justified because Mr. Scott resisted arrest.

    A former friend of mine who was a police officer once told me that if a suspect forced him to give chase, he was "getting a beating." That was more than 20 years ago, and I've since come to realize that my friend's rationale doesn't appear to be an anomaly.

    Why don't we train police officers to deescalate and defuse rather than play the chip on their shoulder and apply maximum force from the moment conflict arises just because they can?

    I don't think it takes a psychologist to figure out that police departments need to do a better job of hiring candidates. We have too many police offices suffering from low self-esteem who seek to boost their fragile egos by abusing the authority and trust placed in them by the public.

    I suspect I know the reason police unions and the NYPD brass don't want to release police videos from body cameras. They simply don't want to be accountable for their conduct, just as the officer commenting here strains credulity with his specious reasoning.

  96. I think the American people have a lot higher priorities right now than this. Law abiding citizens have been suffering and we need to address their needs first. People who break the law need to get to the back of the line. Sorry. When things get back on track, we can put a greater focus on the rights of our lawbreakers.

  97. The only thing separating you from "our lawbreakers" is one instance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Police stop plenty of law-abiding citizens every day of the week; they arrest plenty of them, too. Cops who rack up substantiated complaints about their improper conduct are not adhering to protocol, which makes them a menace to everyone in the community.

  98. So, some have more rights then other? That sounds about right, and that is exactly the problem.

  99. tell that to the people who have been freed from death row due to faulty convictions based on all sorts of shenanigans

  100. Seriously, America, a needless death because of the sale of loose cigarettes? I would think the police should have much higher priorities in terms of public safety. Think Jean Valjean. What has become of our once great country?

  101. Why would we need to honor a petty criminal? Are we badly short on dissent people to honor?

  102. Until police officers are actually held accountable for their criminal conduct, nothing will change. We allow cops to be above the law. Of course they act accordingly.

  103. Nobody tried to kill Garner. It was at worst a tort that the officer and the City need to settle. Garner was resisting officers trying to enforce a law. The force needed to subdue him was poorly monitored and he died as a result. At most it was negligence.

    Four hundred years of egregiously bad treatment of former slaves and victims of racist white dominated institutions has produced a lot of resentment in a lot of people that will not go away soon, and every time a person defies officers there are many who consider that a small act of payback that needs a whole lot more to seem adequate for revenge. In many of these incidents the people who get hurt refused to cooperate. They did not comply as the law required and expected that they were right to do so, that nobody had any right to interfere with them.

  104. Officer Pantaleo was doing his job that day, enforcing the law.
    Law enforcement is an ugly business and unlike a job in sales the "customer" isn't always right.

    Eric Garner has been arrested for selling loose cigarettes in the past and knew that what he was doing that day was against the law. Mr. Garner also knew from past experience that he would get processed at the police station and released with an appearance ticket after an hour or two.

    Except that day for whatever reason Mr. Garner chose to resist his lawful arrest and hold court on the street instead of waiting have his case heard in a court of law. Mr. Garner at that point was still presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

    Mr. Garner would be alive today if he kept calm and allowed the police to handcuff him. Mr. Garner is the only person at fault for his death.

  105. I wonder what will happen when all of the good and honest police, weary from being maligned, second guessed, falsely accused, disrespected and broad-brushed, cease to do what society has asked them to do?

  106. I wonder when good and honest police will get rid of cops whose behavior shames the force.

  107. A man arrested 31 times before operating at a location deemed a ‘condition’ by a community demanding police response, who phycially fought off enforcement efforts just the week before, chooses to resist again, is taken down by a 9 second head/neck take-down that even I have used to effect an arrest; no night sticks, no punches, kicks, tazer, pepper spray, only physical restraint that unfortunately resulted in a cardiac event that took his life. No one intended or could reasonably foresee that this physically huge person would suffer so dire a consequence, but he was aware of his physical conditions and still choose to phycially resist. Fire the cop?

  108. Do you know what "I can't breathe" means?

  109. Focusing only on how the police enforced the government’s control that day avoids the greater question of whether they should have been doing so on the first place. The police have the support of the community when they carry out the role for which they were created which is public safety. No good can come of having the police enforce tax law which is what they were doing. The police should have refused to act and left revenue issues up to tax officials. Furthermore, we should all recognize that every legal prohibition is an authorization of personal violence by our government employees. We should in every case ask ourselves “Does this crime warrant police violence?” because eventually all law enforcement rests on that.

  110. Commenters, too many of you are all over DeBlasio. Here are 3 points about DeBlasio that has brought justice to New Yorkers, especially those of color. First, he got rid of stop and frisk, an illegal search of 100s of 1,000s of NYers every year. Second, he is closing down Riker's Island. Third, he made possession of marijuana a misdemeanor instead of a felony and gave out tickets instead of arresting folks for it. Word tonight is the city will completely decriminalize marijuana possession and use.

  111. The blacks and guilty whites on your "Editorial Board" would never call for police reform if the crimes were being committed against them. Police heroes are there to stop crime whether violent, petty or vice-related. And if the criminals in a particular neighborhood tend to be black, Hispanic or otherwise "brown," they should be stopped. And if guilty, they should be prosecuted and jailed.

  112. What they shouldn’t be is murdered. It’s mind blowing that that point needs to be reiterated.

  113. I could not agree more. That was murder under color of law. A few cigarettes is scarcely cause enough for a summons. And how many of New York's Bravest did it take for this grotesque fiasco to be played out? Shameful.

  114. Do what is right.

    Leave "honoring" Eric Garner's life out of it.

  115. Lots to clean up in the NYC police... and exactly right, where is Mr. D-B on issues like M possession? esp as Medical MJ is now legal. The real snake pit aka Albany goes unsupervised.. only took 5 years for the dirt on Schneiderman to which Trump referred in 2013 to come out. Soliciting, check.

    Pension fraud.. check.. overtime fraud check. Disability fraud, check.. maltreatment of suspects ,check. Shakedowns, check. Killing unarmed civilians, check

    Time, Billy. TIME!!! (and we'd have taxpayer dollars left over!!!)

  116. There are great people of all ethnicities and colors in police departments all over America. But it takes only one bullet to end a life, or one crushing hold on the trachea, or one blow to the chest. PD's that close ranks in the face of possible murder must learn to do better. But the fact remains that police departments were set up to supplement the military all over the world, and their purpose was the protection of property,of property owners, and of places of business. As the old song says: "It's the rich wot gets the gravy/ it's the poor wot gets the blame."

  117. When police must enforce laws, they will have to use force upon some people who for any number of reasons refuse to comply. As they do, some people will suffer injuries that have consequences that are worse than the reason for the detention or arrest. This is not the kind of result that constitutes excessive force or misuse of authority by the police, it’s a risk of enforcing laws. There will be times when police misjudge the amount and particular way of applying force may may affect some individuals who have unapparent conditions which make them more frail than is apparent, and what would not be harmful to most will be harmful to such individuals. All people being forcibly subdued complain just to try to convince the officers to relent, so real difficulties can be missed. These realities are part of the reason that police are granted civil immunity.

    Nobody’s death is of no consequence and even innocent mistakes do not excuse the loss of a person’s life. But we as a society do not practice justice with an eye for an eye means of compensating people for injuries, including fatal ones. The officer did not intend to harm Garner and the manner in which he is held accountable must reflect his intents as well as the reasonableness of his acts. Firing him to offer an apology is crude and undermines the law.

  118. "The officer did not intend to harm Garner."
    When you continue to apply pressure on the neck and chest of someone struggling to breathe, I think we can safely assume that you mean to harm them.

  119. It's not just Pantaleo who should be fired. In watching the video, you can see Pantaleo and other officers piling extra hard on Eric Garner as he cries "I can't breathe." They seem to have believed that he was crying out falsely, just to irritate them, so they punished him by pushing down even harder. Those brutes should not only be fired, but prosecuted. Throw the book at them.

  120. Daniel Pantaleo choked a man to death who said please with his palms facing up. Resisting arrest? What about when the arrest is unjust to begin with? Wait for the matter to be handled at the precinct? People of color cannot trust the police, rightly so. People end up in places like Rikers for years waiting to see a judge for crimes that they did not commit. Reign in the police and stop being so blindly loyal to a force that only cares about itself, it’s own, and their pensions. I can see the PR campaign by the PBA is out in full force. Talk tough from New Rochelle and Tottenville ay boys?

  121. The police, for better or worse, apparently followed established procedures in restraining Garner. Those upset about that should work to get the procedures changed.

    More to the point, why did a morbidly obese & previously arrested man continue to resist arrest when he knew exactly what to expect?

    But what NO ONE is allowed to ask is why the State of NY insists on overtaxing tobacco products so highly that people save money buying single smokes for a dollar.

    Packs of twenty cigarettes cost a quarter when I was in school. I've seen a dozen or two cartons just handed out to customers at a grocery story as if it was nothing special. Out-of-date smokes?

  122. What the media never reported was that this crack down on loose cigarettes was the result of a DiBlasio effort* and ordered by NYPD's 3rd highest ranking police officer. The Mayor ordered everyone to stay silent about it. Then said Garner was committing a "minor offense". What a hypocrite.

    * "De Blasio quietly filed untaxed cig suit the week of Garner decision",

  123. Why punish individuals for a systemic problem? Police methodology needs to be overhauled, immediately.

  124. Because those individuals were directly responsible for the death of another human being.

    The agents of a bad system are just as guilty as its architects.

  125. “The public will just have to take their word for that, since the city no longer discloses disciplinary records of police officers, citing a state civil rights law that the mayor and Commissioner O’Neill say that they oppose but that can be changed only by the State Legislature. Republican control of the Senate makes that unlikely.”

    These are the things , that makes you angry, not only that a way was found to hide those records but the fact that even the Mayor of the city of New York can’t do anything to change this. A police force that knows any record of misdeed is hidden from view , a police force that knows it’s brothers and sisters in blue will hide any misdeed behind a blue wall of silence, a police force that can rationalize even the choke hold death of a man that was caught on video, that police force will feel that it is above the law. We only seal things a way from public view when there is something to hide. Do the police of New York City work for the people of New York City , sworn to protect or are they their own entity , with their own rules, looking out and protecting themselves first and foremost , that’s the question. For a civilized society to properly work, there must be a mechanism to police the police, and the Mayor must have the power above the police, the Mayor must be able to police the police. Without checks and balances democracy cannot exist and fear of the citizenry toward its own police force will result. Transparency in all things is safest.

  126. Follow the direction of the police when confronted and and try no to break the law, it's always served me quite well.

    Hard to muster much sympathy.

    The officers didn't wake up that morning with Eric Garner on their mind.

  127. Rather mindlessly,without proper constraints, murdered someone over a few dollars in city tax. No options from training.... ever cheat on your taxes bud? death to the readers seems capricious.

  128. Eric Garner’s death was tragic and would not have happened had he cooperated with police and allowed them to take into custody for breaking the law. He was selling loose cigarettes on the street, a misdemeanor, and he was not collecting the taxes that are included in the price of the cigarettes, taxes which must be returned to the state and to the nation. A participant in an underground economy, Garner should have cooperated, gone to jail, paid his fine, or had his cases decide before a jury of his peers. That Is how justice is meted out in America. But he chose to resist, and because of his size, it took several policemen to subdue him. Unfortunately, the holds required to restrain him resulted in his death. To honor him would be to honor someone who had chosen a life of crime. Do we need to do that? What does that say about a society that places criminals above the law, above people who play by the rules? Should he be made an example of what children would want to aspire? Children should aspire to be law-abiding citizens, not street criminals participating in underground economic transactions. Thank you.

  129. Classic victim blaming. Let’s play out the logic here...I sell loose cigarettes, repeatedly and am hassled for it - and for bring black and poor - by the cops, repeatedly. I get fined, repeatedly and cannot pay the fines. I decide one day I’ve had enough of being hassled and a multiple number of cops descend upon me and I’m choked to death, and you’re ok with that?!!!

  130. Should we honor cops who are so ruthless, incompetent, and brutal that they have to kill a man for the heinous crime of selling cigarettes?

    Is such a cop the kind of person a child should aspire to?

  131. What laws do you enforce, and which do you ignore? Does a police officer have the right to choose?
    What level of criminal behavior is acceptable within each segment of society? Is it ok to sell loose cigarettes in parts of Staten Island but not in others. Can loose cigarettes be sold in front of Rockefeller Center but not Madison Square Garden? Once you make exceptions to the law, the aforementioned questions as bizarre as they may be arise. As sad as the outcome was, Mr Garner made a choice.
    Does abuse and errors in judgement occur in the police department? Absolutely it does as you have individuals making decisions without the benefit of time or in some instances proper supervision. Are all police complaints grounded in truth absolutely not. Can the NYPD do a better job? The short answer is absolutely. Should the broken window policy of policing continue? Absolutely it should continue or we will devolve back to the lawless days of the 70s, make no mistake of that. Marijuana is not legal in the State of New York. Until the law changes live with it and if you choose to violate the law don't cry foul, accept the consequences. It's all about choices made.

  132. By consequences you mean being put into an illegal chokehold and killed?

  133. Right,’s your logic played out: I sell loose cigarettes- repeatedly - so it’s ok for the cops to choke me to death. For goodness sakes.

  134. A little bit of thought - just a tiny bit - might be given to encouraging a bit of respect - just a tiny bit - by people who interact with police. If everybody else - except the police - are given a pass by the media, it becomes very challenging for the police.

  135. A person has to earn respect.

    Police bullies have no respect for the public.

  136. The use of excessive and sometimes lethal force by law enforcement has become all too common. Re-training is essential. I also believe the proliferation of guns in our society has exacerbated the problem. But then we're no closer to addressing that issue either. I am grieving for our country on so many levels. I've had to take a break from the news. It's all too disturbing.

  137. The problem is cops think they're gods and can push people around forgetting they work for the people. Remember the incident on the upper west side with the elderly Chinese gentleman? They were ready to pounce on him for the horrific "crime" of jay walking.

    Police always have the discretion to just issue a warning. Of course that is what should have been done here. Tell him to move on. There was no reason to arrest him and put him in handcuffs. BTW after he was down and probably dead, they had to cuff him. What nonsense.

    Tbis "offense" deserved a summons at worst. And "resisting arrest"? There was some verbal "resistance". If police had a half of a brain, which I doubt, when he started shouting at them given the magnitude of his "crime", they should have just called for some more aid. There was no reason, none whatsoever, to physically restrain him. Police should not have the right to arrest somebody for such a trivial thing.

    But having said all that. I believe that if a Caucasian had been sitting on that stool weighing 350 pounds or so supposedly selling loose cigarettes, the same thing would have happened. Of course, we will never know.

    But to blame the victim for the total misconduct and misreading of the situation by police officers who think they are above us, is absurd.

  138. The mistake of the officer was to be aggressive in the first place...his record tells us he had a problem with use excessive aggression on the job. To not address it, even now, is why people are afraid of police.

  139. This comment section ironically enough is almost a perfect example of the problem, posts of outrage against a perceived problem with a police department many feel that is above the law followed by a virtual blue wall of silence moving in to protect the police officers involved, neither side hearing or caring to hear the other side. Both sides believe they are not only right but cannot positively be wrong looking at everything through the Prism of their own limited points of view . The Eric Garner case is an almost perfect litmus test, the white cop on the back of the black man, the overreaction to the most insignificant of crimes. There is no doubt that the whole situation could have been handled in a thousand different ways in which Garner would still be alive today, and yet there are those who see absolutely nothing wrong in how the police on the scene handled it- “ Garner resisted arrest so whatever happened from there was his fault.” One person even posted: “ he wasn’t in a chokehold because he could still talk” it left out that the words he managed to say over the big arm around throat was : “ I can’ breathe.”

    Nothing is as detrimental to society as the perception that Justice doesn’t exist, and the law is corrupted by prejudice , from there all manner of evil follows. The only thing more detrimental to society is the refusal to act or change , to become entrenched into a position and to see any suggestion for change as a threat.

  140. I keep waiting for an enterprising film maker to splice together a 90 minute documentary of all these police acts against Black people, whether it be at Starbucks, Waffle House or on the street, and call the film, #I Can't Breathe. That's a film they should show to every policeman on the force.

  141. The Eric Garner case has haunted me since that day when a
    Gang of police officers, lead by one aggressive and angry one, caused the death of Mr. Garner. The death was ruled a homicide. To this day, no one, especially the police officer who placed Mr. Garner in a chokehold, have been held criminally responsible. As I watch that video and hear the unanswered cries of “I can’t breathe” from Mr. Garner, the police’s response to this medical distress is to further cause harm to this individual as to kill him and before his death refuse to give medical aid to a man who was clearly in medical distress and needed immediate help. When policemen, trained to protect and serve, turn around and reverse that policy on their own, causing undue harm, pain, and yes, even death, and are in no way held accountable, one has to ask oneself the obvious question, why are angry and aggressive policemen given a free pass to make their own laws and in the end become bullies, predators and even killers of our citizens.
    This case sickens me in every aspect. For the total and complete disregard for this man’s rights. His manner of death and lack of medical treatment is especially cruel. The justice department has danced around the obvious, that action should be taken against the policemen involved, especially one in particular. I call on Mayor DeBlasio to step up and stop this horrific abuse of our citizens. Fire the policemen involved in this murder.

  142. I am not an apologist for brutal police officers,
    however when you begin an editorial with the
    words "to honor Eric Garner's life..." I find myself
    almost sympathizing with officer Pantaleo.
    Mr.Garner was a career petty criminal who had
    been arrested many times,weighed 300 pounds
    and ignored an order to stop selling cigarettes
    illegally on the street.he actively resisted
    arrest and died of a heart attack.he was going
    to jail again and was furious about it.
    yes,his death was a tragedy, but it was basically
    brought on by his own actions, whether acting
    illegally or resisting arrest or eating an unhealthy
    diet.he was not a gentle giant and guarded his
    corner of the street with threats against any
    competitors or ,on that fateful day, the police.
    if you want to honor his life,teach children to
    learn from his bad example.

  143. We need to start thinking outside the box. Policing is an incredibly stressful job, especially now that the citizenry is armed to the hilt. It's a rare human that routinely does their best under stress, especially chronic stress.

    There is a movement under foot for mindful policing - teaching police more about regulating their own nervous system through meditation and other awareness practices (we could all use more of this). And there are modalities like craniosacral and Somatic Experiencing therapy that would make for great weekly treatments for people in jobs where high stress experiences are common.

  144. A legacy I'd like to see is to get across not to resist arrest. I grew up in a tough neighborhood, but we had enough sense to realize that police are wired in a arrest situation, including fearing for their lives, and that, as a practical matter, it's a bad idea to mess with them at a time like that.

  145. No one is going to reform the police to honor someone's life.

    In fact, the reason the police should be reformed is NOT to honor someone's life.

    Instead, the police who commit crimes and other violations of the norms of proper behavior should be legally sanctioned.

    Everytime the police get away with wrongful actions, the PROSECUTORS, not the police, are the problem.

  146. Stop blaming the police and stop perpetuating myths. As others have commented, it was not a choke hold, the officer's restraint was legal. Most importantly don't resist arrest, by doing so it is the suspect who elevates the situation not the police.

  147. What strikes me is how locked in, the perception of the video is among posters who see in it what fits their own agenda. We have some who could never believe that a cop might be at fault and others who refuse to believe anything other than the chokehold narrative. One poster repeatedly states that the ME report supports the latter even though we do not know what is in that report (but the grand jurors did know). I might be guilty of same, but if you look at the video carefully and focus on where the officer's arm really was and time the event, it is hard to conclude that the officers could have reasonably known that what they were doing could fatally harm Mr. Garner. Yet this case and a number of other episodes, some criminal on the part of the police, some accidental, some due to panic and poor training, have been woven together to suggest systemic racism in law enforcement and the country in general.

  148. Yes, we do know what was in the medical examiner's report:

    On August 1, Garner's death was found by the New York City Medical Examiner's Office to be a result of "compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police".

  149. It has been shown, repeatedly, that many in a position of power tend to abuse it...unless there are clear rules of engagement, respectful of each other, and giving the benefit og the doubt and the ability of seen things from the position of the other side. It also requires enough education and humanity to be able to defuse a stressful situation...instead of abusing police's power by acting indiscriminately in a violent fashion. Incidentally, any chance of replacing 'live ammunition' with tasers or the like? One wrongful death is one too many!

  150. The technology we have today shows before our very own eyes police brutality against black Americans and yet...excuses and cover ups allow injustice to continue. The United States has a long way to go in ending its chapter on racism and even though, as a white mother, I never worry about my children's safety at the hands of the police, my heart aches for all the women, who like Mrs Gwen Carr, have to endure the unimaginable. Police brutality is a stain of shame in the 21st century chapter of American history.

  151. Sivlina, the statistics are clear; very few people are killed by cops that are not Resisting. Very few people are killed by cops that are not armed and resisting.

    The statistics are clear; black lives matter but black on black death vastly outnumbers (28:1), blue on black death in this country.

  152. I suspect firing the very small number of police each year that show themselves unfit for the challenges of there work would go a long way toward improving public confidence and cooperation with the police force.

    This is not, and should not be see as a threat to the 98% of police who have never been accused of problem behavior.

    Most workers would like to see management address the few problem workers in their midst that tarnish the reputation of the whole.

  153. The Editorial Board condemns the state grand jury system, New York federal prosecutors, assistant Attorney General Rosenstein, DiBlasio,and various police review boards.
    Proposing to honor Garner while ignoring the 143 police officers who died in the line of duty protecting Americans in 2017 is warped reasoning.
    Measuring improvements in policing by the fewer police stops made is further nonsense.

  154. Before his more famous statement "I can't breathe", Eric Garner said (as he saw that the police were going to arrest him) "This stops now." America would be far better off if we focused on that statement, and applied it both to 1) the behavior of the police in situations like this, where they - on camera - used excessive force and caused his death, and 2) the behavior of Mr. Garner, who had been arrested over 25 times previously, and who had significantly hurt the business of the local store owners who could no longer sell legal, taxed cigarettes because Mr. Garner was undercutting their prices by selling illegal untaxed ones. America would be far better off if both the police and everyone like Mr. Garner who think it's perfectly fine to continually break the law would adopt the mantra "This stops now."

  155. The caption beneath the photo of Mr. Garner's mother states in part that she " still waiting for that officer [Pantaleo] to be held accountable." Back in 2014 a state grand jury considered the evidence in the matter and declined to indict Officer Pantaleo, so in fact he has been held accountable. It seems the NYT Editorial Board, which has not seen the evidence, believes it is in a better position than the grand jury to render a decision in this matter.

    The title of this opinion piece is "To Honor Eric Garner's Life, Reform the Police." While reform of police policies and practices may be warranted in NYC and elsewhere, this piece fails to explain why we should honor Mr. Garner's life.

    I have no criminal record other than a handful of parking and traffic tickets over a period of many decades. As far back in my childhood as I can remember I always somehow knew it was a bad idea to give a policeman a hard time, much less to resist arrest. No one in my family or at school taught me this; none of my friends or family members was ever arrested; I suppose I just learned through church, movies, TV and newspapers that if you break the law or tangle with the police there will be negative consequences.

    I think the real tragedy here is that it is likely Mr. Garner might be alive today if he had not resisted arrest.

  156. Of course, there are police officers on the job who should not be in that line of work for various reasons, usually emotional, but most are decent people who are trying to uphold their municipalities laws and keep peace in places where lawlessness is rife.

    I would challenge most of us to handle the day to day problems and confrontations as well as most of them do. That is particularly true in areas where the citizens hold police in low, or even, hostile regard.

    In addition, I have always felt that when a police officer has a request, or a command, of you, the best mode of conduct is to comply. If they are wrong, it will be found out one way or another. If they are right, then you are busted. Too bad. Bad mouthing or resisting will not buy you anything, except maybe some satisfaction as they haul you away.

  157. To use street language DiBlasio was punked by the NYPD when they made him take back his statement that even his son feared contact with the police. The police unions in many cities, including NYC are often the strongest single government related organization.

  158. If Eric Garner and many other like him understood that arguing with and fighting the police is almost always a bad idea, we would all be a lot safer, and better off. A courtroom is the proper place to prove innocence and air one’s grievances, vis-a-vis the police. Trying to do that in a street fight is a losing proposition.

  159. What happened to the protests? remember all those people marching in the streets, all that seems to have evaporated. The NYT can write editorials, and the Mayor can try to change things, but real change always comes from the bottom up. Civil disobedience is always the answer to dealing with powerful entrenched forces. When the people are moved to act, things will have to change. But if there are no protests, no marchers, no signs, no people...then I guess the problem really isn't that big after all.

  160. If a police officer is afraid on the job and feels the first choice is to physically attack--whether with a gun, billy club or hands--then that person should not be on the street armed in a uniform that gives him or her almost totally immunity from any actions that he or she might take. As I see it, this is the problem with policing in America. These officers are almost never held responsible for their decisions that lead to the death or injury of people with whom they interact on the streets or in people's homes. However, the other side of that equation is always held accountable for anything or nothing that they might do when confronted by police. Just what is the definition of resisting arrest? Just how do officers determine if you're a threat or not and that they should fear for their lives as they almost always have after they've killed an unarmed suspect? I know that the majority of police officers are the good guys, but the good guys very rarely contradict the bad officers who have done something they shouldn't. Instead, they remain silent. And silence is consent and approval. After the events of the last few years, I can't imagine myself calling 911 and inviting this possible threat onto my property or into my home. I have a bi-racial family and I live in an upscale neighborhood. A person of color in my family would be more at risk from law enforcement than from almost any other threat I can think of these days. It is a sad state of affairs.

  161. The police will continue to use excessive force because there are no consequences for them when they do so. Just like any profession, there are good cops and there are bad cops but if you're a 'good cop' who covers up for a bad cop then that just makes you a bad cop as well. We almost never hear (I realize that this may be due to lack of media coverage) cops issuing statements as a whole that what their fellow police officers did was abhorrent and wrong. I understand that they chose a dangerous profession and that in the heat of the moment, they may feel like they're in danger but if that's how they feel going into every encounter, maybe they're not meant to be a cop. Being a cop doesn't give them the right to kill someone and get away with it.

  162. Two close relatives died alone in their NYC apartments. In both cases valuable articles were missing when my relatives were allowed in. One of the articles was a five carat canary diamond ring. As is the custom, the police were the first people in the apartments. One of the articled was my great grand father’s ceremonial sword which he received on graduation from the naval academy in 1854.

  163. Eric Garner died because a member of the NYC police decided that the use of physical force was necessary to subdue a man selling loose cigarettes—a capital crime if there ever was one. With enough NYC police officers in attendance to subdue a small bar fight, NYC finest could not find enough time to let the man rant for 20 minutes and then hand him a warning. Nope. No can do. Nothing says good police work like grabbing an individual around the neck and throwing them to the ground. The man was wearing shorts and a tee shirt. The overuse of force by local police is much more of a threat to the citizenry than some idiotic notion that Pres Barack Obama was going to overthrow Texas.

    Oh but they "arrested" him -- for selling loose cigarettes. Mr Garner's resistance was a complaint-- why? But the NY, ever full of themselves in all instances, was determined not to let this lawbreaker getaway with it. All due force was called for. An arm around the neck -- that the heck. If it did not actually choke him it triggered a heart attack.

  164. Having lived from LA to Dallas, Boston to NYC and Miami, I have seen repeated incidents of police brutality, corruption and coverup. Its not one bad apple, it's a pretty rotten barrel. Officer Pantaleo should be made an example of.

  165. Honor Eric Garner's life, reform the unjust and unfair taxes, and make capitalism free and unfettered.

    Eric Garner was merely a capitalist who saw a need in his community for a service, which he provided. For that, he was killed.

    It wasn't the cops that killed him, it was the Leftists politicians who control the cops and who seek to control each and every single aspect of a person's life, from cradle to grave. Through taxes, rules, and regulations, the only thing those Leftist politicians do is interfere with what otherwise would have been a consensual, mutually agreeable transaction between private individuals.

    Until people understand that the police are merely tools of the State, doing the State's bidding as they are directed, nothing will change.

  166. There are two issues here re the black lives matter issue imo.

    One is general unequal treatment of blacks and whitesby the police.

    The other is our national, cultural gun abuse sickness.

    This incident is an exception but most of these tragic cases involves shootings by police.

    Our gun abuse sickness is suffered by all sides, whites, rich, poor, men, women and yes especially by blacks in the inner cities.

    If we did not have this gun abuse sickness, you would still hear stories about blacks being roughed up, not treated equally but they would by and large still be alive.

  167. Easier task generating justifiable sympathy for Emmit Till, Ross Parks--carefully chosen Civil Rights pioneer--than for (over) grown middle aged man with kids selling "loosies".

    Aesthetics Matter.

  168. DiBlasio is a coward; like most of the the superficially progressive members of the Establishment he wears camouflage to sustain the status quo.
    He did fall to silence after the murder of the two officers in their patrol car, but he was never going to be a genuine change agent.
    He is wholly owned by Big Donors, and he is a familiar Narcissist, bent on spending a lifetime in public office.
    The NYPD have sunk to an arrogant armed gang since 911.
    Now they have dropped the mask of cooperation with body cameras after millions of dollars spent for the purpose. What is needed is a robust all-in sweeping of the filthy stables by a committed prosecutorial entity with full powers to expose and fire and fine and jail the bad apples. And public officials willing to hold office for only a single term or two to get justice done. And we need a Media that doesn't bury the bad news. What is happening with the two officers who raped the teenager in a NYPD van in Brooklyn? Where is the coverage for this and many other outrages?

  169. The fact that it is the nature of the human animal, especially the male towards both bravado, bullying, and violence, as we are primitive animals, often those who enter the police force already don't have characteristics necessary for dealing with those they come in contact with in a healthy or even life giving way. For decades, about 4, I have been very upset about the way, they have dealt with mentally ill people, often with only a small knife, shooting them and killing them, when the police departments could of designed mesh blankets to throw over them for a way to get them under control, and defuse the situation. There hasn't been a whole lot of thinking going on, in police forces the last decade, and too often, few policepersons, mostly male, are held accountable for the lives they take. This was another one of the lives lost, and the suffering of the family that should remain in everyone's mind, so it doesn't happen again. Everyone is in their own tribe, and in this case it is the tribe of the police, and their union, not one of truth. That is pretty much the way all of modern life goes, no matter the education, disciplinary boards, lawyers, etc. little changes when the tribe rules, not unlike the mob.

  170. Eric Garner was a career petty criminal who died while resisting arrest. He was also a large obese man with health issues. He certainly didn't deserve to die that day but his actions in resisting arrest are at least partially responsible for the outcome. Once police announce that you are under arrest any action other than compliance will end badly, sometimes very badly. It doesn't matter if you don't think you should be arrested, or if it was just selling loosies. That is the main lesson of this case.

  171. It's a natural reaction to rebel when you feel unjustly treated.

    Cops don't politely approach you. They are belligerent and intimidating, with the threat of force behind them.

    If they had just backed off and behaved calmly, Garner would still be alive.

    It's pretty laughable to refer to a petty criminal's livelihood as a "career." His arrests were for nothing more serious than your ticket for speeding, and for activities far less dangerous.

  172. One of the many reasons why this NYC Dem didn’t vote for De Blasio. His “progressive” tendencies only kick in when there are cameras around.

  173. My God, listen to all of the solid citizens here tsk-tsking that people who resist arrest have only themselves to blame, should the cops happen to kill them. These people need an education in how the other half lives, but of course they'll do their best not to get it.

  174. NYPD abuse of black folks did not begin nor end with the racial profiling stalking arrest killing of Eric Garner. Reform will not begin nor end with deceptive duplicitous euphemisms. There is nothing that can be done that will resurrect Eric Ganer.

    Honoring the life of black people in New York City means treating them all as if they were Rudy Giuliani, Sean Hannity or Donald Trump. Instead of presuming that blacks are 'dangerous and guilty' as Bryan Stephenson of the Equal Justice Initiative as justly asserted.

  175. REAL Civilian oversight is sorely needed. The Blue Wall, and the Blue Gang.

  176. Daniel Panteleo should be sitting in jail. It's astounding that Bill DeBlasio, for all of his talk about equity and making the city a fairer place totally caved in on this clear episode of police abuse and is taking no action whatsoever. This one case alone shows the impunity that police in New York City enjoy; that they can walk up to someone, kill them and then walk away with no consequences.

  177. Eric Garner's "crime" was selling "loosies," single cigarettes that avoid New York City's oppressive cigarette tax. The cops that grabbed and accidentally killed Garner were part of a special unit designed to crack down on such tax avoidance.

    Perhaps a better way to honor Eric Garner's life is to get rid of such stupid laws that criminalize trivial behavior and the special police units that enforce them.

  178. There are two issues that must be addressed.

    1. Was the officer an indifferent or aggressive racist who used excessive force as a routine aspect of his policing behavior. This is what the editors suggest by citing the four allegations against him of brutal tactics. Further, by linking Mr Gardner's death to those of "so many other black men" in the United States, the editors extend the charge to all policing actions that involve black men.

    The police have invited some of this criticism upon themselves when they circle the wagons around bad cops. If the cop in question is a bad cop, then he should be fired or charged. The broader insinuation that policing denies black men justice in this country is a canard that conveniently ignores the reality of policing neighborhoods wherein black men commit disproportionate rates of crime.

    2. Why in the world should Eric Gardner be honored? Mr Gardner was no Rosa Parks. His death may have been avoidable, but the video clearly shows he resisted his arrest as strongly as he was able. According to the medical condition reports that have been published, Mr Gardner was obese and died of a heart attack. Perhaps the reports have been falsified.

    Bottom line, we have a huge problem in this country centering around two phenomena that need to be dealt with squarely.

    Police bullying and coverups.

    Black men committing crime at multiple rates of others.

    The editors do not contribute to solving this issue with their agendas.

  179. Editorial Board neglected to say how many times Garner had been arrested previously- as usual not holding criminals responsible for their actions.

  180. I don't even think that Garner was engaging in illegal conduct when he was harassed by the police including that diminutive cop Pantaleo who killed him and who should be fired and prosecuted.

    Garner was selling loose cigarettes which he owned and legitimately acquired. What's wrong with that?

  181. What has happened to the officer in charge at the scene of the Garner arrest? My recollection was that it was a police sergeant. Is not the senior officer responsible for what goes on at the scene? Of course? Was the black female sergeant disciplined? Her actions placed before a grand jury? Her integrity questioned? Her competence questioned by the press and the mob? I wonder why? But we all really know! Much easier to pick on white of Italian ethnicity. My father taught physical tactics at the police academy for 25 years. He showed me the hold P used when I was 10. Senior officers sent street police to take care of this case and scattered like rats afterwards. That is what always happens.

  182. Who writes this drivel? The deceased was a criminal, yes, a petty criminal, but if he just complied with the PD he would have survived that arrest.

    If you are afoul of the law and clearly the deceased understood the process, you comply and fight back through the system at a later point, which is what he should hav3 done rather than refuse to be arrested, which he had been multiple times prior to 5hat fateful day.

    When will the NYT stop pandering to criminals and call things what they are?

  183. Fired? He should be prosecuted for murder.

  184. My wife was a Marshall, a corrections officer, a probation counselor, and one of the first four women in our state to be a police officer. She is the real deal.

    What too many people fail to realize is that, while they are going about their days in a civilized manner, police officers are working in a war zone. So they think the same kinds of "rules" apply--rules of logic, training, calm reasoning, etc. They don't.

    Police officers work in the ugly parts of our world, the parts where most of us do not want to be. And they are, like the rest of us, human beings subject to all of the faults we all have. Except, for them, they are constantly on-guard. And they, in contrast to the rest of us, have to be ready to use physical force on other people.

    Why is it that liberals who frequently voice how "ignorant" Trump voters are cannot see this aspect of our world as accurately as those Trump supporters?

    How many people on the Editorial Board or writing negative comments here actually know police officers and what they go through?

    Well, folks. Your world would be uninhabitable without them. And virtually none of you critics are willing to do it yourselves.

  185. It should be the job of all cops to De-escalate a situation rather than Escalate one. Pantaleo was way out of line and now has blood on his hands and has tainted his dept.

  186. War zone? WAR ZONE? It may look like one thanks to the mass militarization of the police, but as far as I'm aware the United States Congress hasn't declared any wars for quite some time. And I don't think the Geneva Conventions have been updated yet to include selling untaxed cigarettes as a crime against humanity (certainly they haven't prescribed execution on the spot).

    Spare me. This isn't the 1990s. Violent crime is way down, and cops aren't anywhere near the top of the list for most dangerous professions. Where are the protections for the loggers in the warzones of America's forests, those who fall to fell trees so that cops have paper to push around when they're on temporary desk duty for turning a human being into a lead pincushion?

    If a cop makes a mistake, their fellow officers should correct it -- not join the dogpile and suffocate a man to death. Your fantastical delusions of the "war" taking place on America's streets would be comical if it weren't being used to justify unbridled use of force by officers of the state against unarmed civilians.

  187. Dan, the streets of NYC are not a "war zone" , neither are the streets of any U.S. city a war zone - this is a huge part of the problem, this mentality the police have that they are an occupying force.

  188. Lets not make Eric Garner into a martyr. His death is tragic, but we have no need to "honor" the life of this petty criminal who had been arrested 30 times - he was out on bail when the incident happened. Perhaps the officer could have used better tactics, but Garner would be alive if he hadn't resisted arrest and swatted the officer's hands away. For the officers of the N.Y.P.D, the message from city hall is clear - ignore low lever crimes; smoking marijuana in public? no problem, urinating on your neighbors stoop? no problem, jump a turnstile? fares are for suckers, selling untaxed cigarettes? lets erect a statue. Pantaleo's biggest mistake was not ignoring the storekeepers complaints about Garner ruining his business. He should have walked past. The recent golden age of New York City has passed.

  189. The article mentions 17,000 arrests for Marijuana. Marijuana is legal where I live. You can go into a store and buy it. Arresting people for possession of Marijuana is reprehensible and stupid. You have to wonder what type of person would arrest someone for Marijuana possession in this day and age.

  190. An extremely obese man, selling contraband, from a location that he had been chased away from many times.......resists arrest.....and has a heart attack while wrestling with the cops.
    Its ugly all the way around. But, no. there's just nothing more to see here. We're trying to force this tragedy to fit inside a narrative that does not fit the story.

  191. The medical examiner told the story quite clearly: Garner died by homicide as a direct result of the actions of the police.

    Read the report.

  192. While not one to condone any form of police misconduct or brutality, plain and simple Garner and many of these blacks men killed by police would still be alive if they simply obeyed the police officer's commands. When confronted by a police officers the public should simply obey their commands. Police officers need to be obeyed if we are to have some order of law in our country. It is very dangerous for the public to not heed the officer's commands or to make gestures to arouse the office, like reaching into a bag or reaching behind their back quickly. They are playing with fire and their own lives.

  193. Daniel Panteleo is a murderer. Indict and convict him. The law of the land applies to every person in this country, despite the fact that political parties believe it does not.

  194. Thirty arrests for Eric Garner. Sounds like the Times should attribute some of the blame for his demise to him.

  195. The pattern is too clear. A substantial number of police consider people of color, who offer no real threat to them, easy game. Would these police who have choked, shot or beaten to death these people have deployed the same tactics had the 'perp' been, say, Ivanka Trump? Michael Bloomberg? Their own son or daughter caught waving a cellphone around that 'looked like a gun' or resisting a cop who got in their face because they were selling loose cigarettes!!

  196. I find that Fox News lies, not so much by fabricating facts but, by omitting facts totally change the picture. Unfortunately, I think this editorial does much the same. Gross oversimplification of why the policy were called, Garner's history, Garner's total refusal to comply with the instructions repeatedly issued by the police, etc. etc.
    The editorial is basically a headline "Man executed for selling untaxed cigarettes" and that is a false claim.
    Garner shouldn't have died but he was primarily the author of his own misfortune.

  197. He may have been guilty of a less than blameless life, but he never harmed anyone.

    The cops, on the other hand, committed murder.

  198. The cops could stand reforming. The cops could always use reforming. But I have no desire to ""To Honor Eric Garner's Life" because the choices he made leading to his death were not honorable. And I'm not talking about the petty crime he engaged in to support his family. I'm talking about his resisting arrest -- which was his decision and which sparked the confrontation that killed him. If Garner had thought first that 1) he was a seriously obese man with asthma and therefore in absolutely no condition to resist arrest; 2) he had a family which depended on him; and 3) if you're going to make a living doing low-level street crime the occasional bust is a cost of doing business and you need to accept that, take the bust, post bail, and get on with life -- if he taken all that into consideration he would have said "OK", put his hands out to be cuffed, and asked what the jail was serving for lunch. Then none of this would have happened, I would not be writing this comment, and the NYT wouldn't be putting Garner forward as some kind of secular saint.

  199. Why does the NYT ignore the fact that Garner was resisting arrest when he died? He wouldn't have died if didn't resist.

  200. There are other priorities more important than the rights of our criminal element right now.

    And "honor ", surely you jest? We are asked to honor the life of a man arrested 33 times?

    Seriously NYT, get a grip already.

  201. What you are saying is that his record gave that homicidal maniac the right to kill him on the sidewalk?


  202. The Constitution guarantees the same rights to everybody, including those you label "the criminal element" and think deserve to be murdered by police.

  203. New York Times perpetual championing of Michael "Gentle Giant" Brown, Eric Garner actually generating an ironic Willie Horton affect mobilizing reactive white outrage which gave us Trump and if continued will reelect Trump.

  204. To honor Eric Garner's life, and life in general, lets teach our kids not to resist arrest

  205. Eric Garner was breaking the law and resisting arrest. His death is unfortunate but the outcome of events he set in motion

  206. His death is far more than "unfortunate," and was a result of the cops treating him with extreme brutality.