'Teddy Bear' Father of 6 Dies After Put in Chokehold During Arrest Gone Wrong (VIDEO)

A father of six is dead after several cops wrangled him to the ground, appeared to put him in a chokehold, and pushed his head into the sidewalk. Despite the man, who is asthmatic, repeatedly gasping, "I can't breathe ... I can't breathe ..." the police continued to hold him down as a friend caught it all on camera. His crime? Appears to be nothing, except he wouldn't put his hands behind his back for an arrest as he repeatedly says on camera that he's not doing anything illegal. The friend videotaping the scene explains on camera that the man had done nothing but just break up a fight.

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The man, 400-pound, 43-year-old Eric Garner, a married man with six kids and two grandkids, described as a "teddy bear" by one friend, was standing on a corner in Staten Island when cops approach him.

Reportedly, Garner had a record of selling illegal untaxed cigarettes, and the police had been keeping an eye on him. But it's unclear why they want to arrest him now, as he appears to just be standing there not doing anything and does not have cigarettes on him. A friend who begins videotaping the confrontation repeatedly says that Garner had done nothing but just break up a fight between two men.

Garner, clearly fed up with being confronted by police, is frustrated with the cops' attempt to arrest him. "For what?" he asks again and again. "I didn't sell anything! I did nothing. I've been sitting here the whole time ... Every time you see me, you want to arrest me. I'm tired of it; it stops today."

The man does not appear inebriated or violent, but he is clearly fed up with what he feels is harassment. Unable to arrest him peaceably, several other cops show up and suddenly wrestle him to the ground. One cop clearly has his arm around Garner's neck and windpipe as he's pushed to the ground. He repeatedly says, "I can't breathe," as another pushes his head into the cement.

Within a minute or so, the man appears to be unconscious. He later died in a hospital.

"They harassed and harassed my husband until they killed him," said his wife, Esaw Garner, who is now left to raise six kids alone.

I'm sure the police will have one version here, and the family another. But it does seem like this arrest could have been handled better. Garner did not appear to be a threat to anyone -- though he clearly did not want to be hauled off to the pokey. If I was being harassed every day, I'd be irate too.

Was he selling illegal cigarettes? It's unclear from this video, though the family says no. Other witnesses say no.

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Why a cop had to have his arm around his neck, I don't understand. Why another had to push his head into the pavement, I also don't understand. This man was unarmed -- and he was frustrated.

I do not envy cops their jobs, and I can only imagine what they see every day. But that isn't an excuse for using deadly force when it's not needed. It seems with that many police there, and the fact that the guy wasn't armed, and was screaming he couldn't breathe, they could have backed off and let the situation cool down. Chokeholds are not allowed in the NYPD.

Now six kids do not have a father. And who could blame them if they despise police for the rest of their lives.

Could the police have handled this better?

 

Image via BackgroundNow.comStaff/Flickr

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