By Jonathan Allen
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The death of a man during an arrest last month in the New York City borough of Staten Island was caused by a choke hold used on him by a police officer, the chief medical examiner’s office said on Friday, declaring the death a homicide.
Eric Garner, who was arrested by police on July 17 for peddling untaxed cigarettes, died as result of compression to his neck, compression to his chest and “prone positioning during physical restraint by police,” according to autopsy results.
Bronchial asthma, obesity and heart disease were also listed as contributing conditions, the city medical examiner’s office said in an email summarizing the findings.
In bystanders’ videos of Garner’s last moments, he can be seen arguing with several police officers. An officer then puts him in a choke hold and Garner collapses, saying repeatedly that he cannot breathe.
The death of Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, has sparked outrage in the city. The police department said it would retrain all officers because of his death.
The incident has raised questions about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s election promises to help mend frayed relations between police and citizens, particularly black and Latino men. De Blasio, who took office in January, has called Garner’s death a “tragedy”.
Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer who put Garner in the choke hold, was placed on desk duty and had to relinquish his gun and badge while investigations into the death take place.
There was no immediate comment from the police department or City Hall.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Frank McGurty and Peter Cooney)