Eric Garner

Death of Eric Garner Ruled "Homicide by Chokehold"


killed by cops
cellphone image via Daily News

The medical examiner for New York City ruled the death of Eric Garner, who died in police custody after a violent arrest over allegedly selling loose untaxed cigarettes, a "homicide by chokehold."

Police apologists often advocate the use of chokeholds neck restraints, which are banned by the New York Police Department. NPR explained last week:

Many police trainers say chokeholds are relatively safe — and should be used more. These proponents of the method, it should be noted, hate the word "chokehold." They say it confuses two very different kinds of maneuvers: actual chokeholds, which cut off a person's air supply, and "lateral vascular neck restraints," which don't.

Missy O'Linn, a former cop and self-defense trainer who is now a lawyer who defends cops in court, says in a neck restraint, the officer puts his or her arm around a person's neck in a "V" — putting pressure not on the windpipe, but on the sides of the neck, and on the arteries to the brain.

In the aftermath of Garner's death, police apologists also went to the Internet to complain that Garner,  a 400 pound asthmatic accused, he insisted falsely, of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, should have complied with officers who were attempting to arrest him, for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.

In a press conference earlier this week Bill Bratton, speaking with New York City's mayor Bill de Blasio, said that correcting your behavior for police was "what democracy's all about." Though his comments were largely wrong-headed, Bratton is correct that the law against selling loose, untaxed cigarettes is not a concoction of the police, but the city that voted for elected officials who have run the taxes on cigarettes so high as to create a black market in loose, untaxed cigarettes. And that's what democracy's all about, imposing rules supported by a nominal majority over the every-day minority, the individual.

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  1. Let the infighting begin!


  2. The medical examiner for New York City ruled the death of Eric Garner, who died in police custody after a violent arrest over allegedly selling loose untaxed cigarettes, a “homicide by chokehold.”

    I am going to make one of my bold but almost never wrong predictions of the future.


  3. That’s why you need to vote Democratic – so people won’t be killed for resisting ridiculous tax laws!

    And the medical examiner is just yielding to the cop-haters – it wasn’t a chokehold, he had enough breath in him to say he couldn’t breath, couldn’t he? So obviously he wasn’t choking, the fact that he died is a minor detail.

  4. I have a feeling the medical examiner for New York City is going to be looking for a new job starting Monday.

  5. If he had obeyed like a good peasant, then the king’s man wouldn’t have been forced to kill him.

    It’s his fault for failing to obey.

  6. Just so I’m clear, and I realize that cops aren’t doctors, but constricting the flow of blood to the brain via the carotid artery is safer than strangulation? Do they know that non-cops need blood in their brain to survive?

    1. They both black out the victim by restricting oxygen to the brain. I honestly don’t see how one could be safer than the other.

    2. Cutting off the blood supply causes almost instant unconsciousness by quickly depriving the brain of oxygen, and the person recovers almost instantly because once the blood supply is returned it is still rich in oxygen.
      Cutting off air causes the brain to be deprived of oxygen by depriving the blood of oxygen. That can cause long term damage or death.

      1. So in both cases, if the hold is applied for 6-10 minutes, the recipient is fucked.

        1. In the trial if there was to be one, all the cops have to say is:

          “Well, when we were all piled on top of him choking the shit out of him, we TOLD him to breathe, but he didn’t obey our commands!”

        2. In the case of cutting off the blood supply, it shouldn’t take more than a few seconds to knock the person out. More than that and it’s being done wrong.

    3. It is technically safer. In the real world its known as a blood choke. You see it in ufc all the time. There could be a legitimate use for it in law enforcement. For instance, if someone attacked you violently, a blood choke would certainly be less violent than brawling, pepper spray, or clubbing someone. Unless of course the dumbass cop didn’t know how to do it right(judging by the fact that a man died I’ll go out on a limb and say that’s a pretty safe bet.

      1. Cops are trained on how to do it right. Thing is, they don’t care because they know that there are no consequences for killing someone.

      2. For instance, if someone attacked you violently,

        You wouldn’t need to waste your time on a blood choke v. a regular choke. You can kill them because they attacked you violently.

        It has no legitimate purpose in law enforcement. Its too risky for any encounter that doesn’t justify lethal force.

        1. You can kill them because they attacked you violently.

          Could, but shouldn’t. That’s what cops get paid for. To deal with violent situations without turning them into blood baths. Unfortunately, most cops suck at that part of the job.

        2. Some people don’t want to kill anyone if they can help it, even if they are justified in doing so.

          1. True enough. Chokeholds give an illusion of non-lethality, though. You shouldn’t use them unless you are prepared to kill and willing to run a substantial risk of killing. Because they give the illusion of non-lethality, I think more likely to escalate risk where you aren’t willing to just put a bullet in the guy.

  7. market in loose, untaxed cigarettes

    Total. Bullshit.

    I see this practice downtown all of the time. The fucking state already got it’s fucking tax dollars when the guy selling loose cigarettes purchased them from the store.

    1. But the person selling the singles is making an untaxed profit. He’s making money without asking permission and obeying orders. That warrants death.

    2. Well obviously, losing a few dollars in revenue is a good reason to kill a guy, and the cops did make it home safely after all. So where’s the story here?

    3. Maybe he bought them in NJ? The tax is a lot lower there. Too bad the punishment for paying tribute to the wrong king is death.

    4. Unless he bought them from another guy on the street selling stolen or untaxed smokes, which also happens.

    5. It is total bullshit, but not the way you mean. There’s no way this case had anything to do with that. Because the cop said it, you gonna believe it?

    6. There is a thriving cigarette black market in San Diego. Loping about half off the price of stateside cigarettes. There’re purchased in Tijuana, smuggled across the border and then sold in San Diego at a profit by street people. There are a myriad of injustices here. Not the least of which is a government taxing a substance linked to 480,000 deaths per years in the US alone.

  8. in a neck restraint, the officer puts his or her arm around a person’s neck in a “V” ? putting pressure not on the windpipe,

    The pic shows very clearly that a “neck restraint” turns into a “chokehold” if either the victim or the cop changes their relative position by a few degrees.

    Its routine for training in pepper spray, etc to include the application of the “self-defense” technique to the trainee. I wonder if NYC cops and Missy O’Linn would be willing to be blacked out by either, or would even be willing to have a full-on neck restraint applied while they tried to escape.

  9. The ME should have ruled it “homicide by pig”, because that’s really what it is.

    1. I can’t agree.

      I’m thinking “murder by pig”. That sounds better.

  10. Missy O’Linn, a former cop and self-defense trainer who is now a lawyer who defends cops in court, says in a neck restraint, the officer puts his or her arm around a person’s neck in a “V” ? putting pressure not on the windpipe, but on the sides of the neck, and on the arteries to the brain.

    For some reason, this fails to convince me of the safety of “putting pressure…on the arteries to the brain”.

    1. It’s supposed to knock the person out quickly, and then they quickly recover. In handcuffs. That’s how it’s supposed to work. In practice it’s a show of power, and the cops cut off the wind instead of the blood because of the terror it inflicts upon the victim.

  11. All of this lack of love for authority and our hero protectors in blue is going to eventually get all of us libertarians on the terrorist watch list, you all know that right? … What’s that? We’re already on it? Well, fuck, then carry on!

  12. Fair enough, instead of “chokehold”, we’ll use the term that would be used if I did to a cop.

  13. I can only assume that Ed wrote this article immediately after seeing

  14. Funny, when I was in Boot Camp in July 2001 we learned the blood choke as part of MCMAP. Back then we were told it was a more effective way to KILL someone over a choke to the wind pipe. It took only about 6 seconds to make then black out, and then a bit longer to kill them, as opposed to at least double the time with an “air choke” to get them to black out, and much longer to kill after that.

    They were careful to make sure tapping out was respected when we choked each other out. The DI’s didn’t want anyone blacking out from that and fucking up someone’s brain.

    But then again, that was all pre 9-11. The lethality must have dissipated after the terrorists won….

    (Hello. First time commenter, long time lurker here!)

    1. Welcome! Good first post.

      Stick around. Just don’t ever let yourself be alone in a room with Warty.

      1. Thanks, jrc. I have read the warnings, but I don’t know the origin story. Dare I ask for the source material?

        But you know, Marines are the most homoerotic branch of the military. I’d like to think I could hold my own with him…..

        1. Hold your own? Warty will hold it for you.

  15. OT: Oakland SWAT asshole who hit a guy in the head with a rubber bullet then shot tear gas at people trying to help him is reinstated. With back pay, of course.


    As always, the comments on policeone are beyond vile.

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