Renowned Forensic Expert Agrees With Medical Examiner’s Findings in Eric Garner Case

A renowned forensics expert who conducted an independent autopsy on the 18-year-old fatally shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri, last month praised the New York City medical examiner's conclusions in the death of Eric Garner after reviewing the evidence Friday.

Michael Barden, a former New York City medical examiner, personally reviewed the medical examiner's final autopsy report on the death of the 43-year-old Garner, who died after being put into a chokehold by police July 17 while he was being taken into custody for allegedly selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.

The medical examiner previously ruled Garner's death a homicide, saying the father of six died from neck compression due to a chokehold. His asthma and obesity were contributing factors to but did not cause his death, the medical examiner determined.

Barden, who recently conducted an independent autopsy on Michael Brown and whose findings contradicted some witness accounts of the Missouri police shooting, called the Garner autopsy "excellent" and agreed with the medical examiner's findings that "neck compressions" led to his death.

"They do confirm that there's a hemorrhage in the neck indicative of neck compression," said Baden. 

Baden backed the Garner family's assertion that his asthma and other health problems weren't what killed him. 

"Compression of the neck that prevents breathing trumps everything else as cause of death," he said. 

As part of his independent autopsy, Baden examined slides of some body parts as well as organ tissue. 

Pat Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association of the City of New York, has challenged the fairness of the autopsy. On Friday, he pointed out the difference between the words "compression" and "asphyxiation." 

"You did not hear the private medical examiner say they saw signs of asphyxiation," said Lynch. "What they saw is compression to the neck, which is consistent to the medical treatment Mr. Garner would have received by EMS." 

Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan said his office, after reviewing the medical examiner's report, would impanel a grand jury in the Garner case to determine if charges should be filed.

Shortly after Garner died, one officer was stripped of his gun and badge pending an internal NYPD investigation and another was placed on desk duty. Two paramedics and two EMTs were suspended without pay after allegedly failing to provide CPR in a timely manner. 

Follow Andrew Siff on Twitter @andrewsiff4NY

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