NYC police union chief denies officers used choke hold on man who died

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The president of New York City's main police union on Tuesday denied arresting officers had used a choke hold on a Staten Island man and said a coroner's report that ruled the man's death a homicide was politically motivated.

"This was not a choke hold," Pat Lynch, head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, told a press conference, referring to a July 17 incident in which Eric Garner, accused of selling illegal cigarettes on a Staten Island street, died after a scuffle with police.

"It was bringing a person to the ground, which we're trained to do, to put him under arrest. It was not a choke hold," he said.

He called a chief medical examiner's report, which last week found Garner's death was caused by a choke hold, "one of the most political documents" he had ever seen. No police officers have been charged in the death.

Lynch said the city's police officers feel they lack the full support of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who took office in January promising to end more aggressive police tactics such as the so-called "Stop and Frisk" crime-fighting program.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jim Loney)