Chief Investigative Reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.

PBA Leader Blasts Eric Garner Autopsy Report as "Political"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The death of Staten Island Resident Eric Garner after an apparent chokehold during his arrest has sparked an intense investigation into the NYPD. There have been more than 1,000 complaints about chokeholds over the last five years, according to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, and on Tuesday, the board began the task of sifting through every one of them. Andrew Siff reports. (Published Wednesday, Aug 6, 2014)

    Mayor de Blasio on Tuesday defended a medical examiner's ruling that a man was killed by neck compressions caused by a police officer's apparent chokehold, while the powerful police union representing rank-and-file officers called the death report "political."

    Speaking at a news conference minutes after Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch denied that NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo used a chokehold while attempting to arrest Eric Garner on July 17, de Blasio told reporters that the city's medical examiner's office was "the gold standard in this country" for medical science.

    Last week, the medical examiner ruled Garner's death a homicide, saying it was caused by neck compressions from a chokehold and "the compression of his chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police." Asthma, heart disease and obesity were contributing factors in the death, the medical examiner said.

    Prosecutors are still investigating. Pantaleo has been stripped of his gun and badge. Partial video of the arrest shows that Garner, 43, who was being arrested on Staten Island for selling untaxed single cigarettes, told the officers taking him into custody that he was being harassed.

    Man Who Shot Chokehold Video Faces Judge on Gun Charge

    [NY] Man Who Shot Chokehold Video Faces Judge on Gun Charge
    The 22-year-old man who shot a video of a fatal police chokehold was arraigned on gun charges Monday afternoon. Andrew Siff has more. (Published Tuesday, Aug 5, 2014)

    The 6-foot-3-inch, 350-pound man then shook his arm free from an officer's grasp before he was placed into the chokehold and brought to the ground.

    In the video, he can be heard complaining that he can't breathe.

    Both the police commissioner and the mayor have said it appears a chokehold was used. Chokeholds are banned under NYPD policy.

    On Tuesday, Lynch disputed the findings, telling reporters that Garner had been warned by officers the week before his death to stop selling cigarettes.

    Eric Garner's Wife Calls for Action After Chokehold Death Ruled a Homicide

    [NY] Eric Garner's Wife Calls for Action After Chokehold Death Ruled a Homicide
    The widow of Eric Garner called on prosecutors to take action Saturday, a day after the city medical examiner ruled the death of her husband a homicide and declared that a police chokehold had killed him. (Published Sunday, Aug 3, 2014)

    He denied allegations made by the Rev. Al Sharpton and others that race played any role in the confrontation between Garner, who is black, and Pantaleo, who is white.

    "It is a person's behavior that leads to interactions with police, not who they are, what they look like or how much money they have in their pocket," Lynch said.

    De Blasio, who stressed that he had "immense respect" for the NYPD, also addressed comments made by the head of the union representing sergeants, who said a supervising officer should oversee every arrest made. That could slow down officers' response times to fresh 911 calls, the mayor said.

    "Union leaders say what union leaders say," de Blasio said. "I don't let the rhetoric of union leaders get in the way of getting job done."

    Man Who Shot Chokehold Video Arrested on Gun Charge

    [NY] Man Who Shot Chokehold Video Arrested on Gun Charge
    The NYPD said Sunday that the man who shot a video of a fatal police chokehold had been arrested on a gun charge. Andrew Siff reports. (Published Sunday, Aug 3, 2014)

    Meanwhile, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, a police watchdog agency, is reexamining all  complaints of illegal chokeholds used by police officers over the past five years.

    There were about 1,000 chokehold allegations in that period, including 608 that were not investigated, according to the board's chairman, Richard Emery.

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