Eric Garner

NYPD Chief Bratton Uses Unfortunate Metaphor of 'Breathing Room' to Describe How Cops Could Handle Garner Protests

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If a miscarriage of justice over a police officer choking Eric Garner to death after he isn't properly deferential when being approached over suspicion of the possibility of selling untaxed cigararettes, in which Garner's famous last words, over and over, were "I can't breathe," results in the possibility of public protests, what will the New York Police Department do?

Why, according to NYPD Chief Bratton:

"If they engage in criminal activity, such as vandalism—actual crime—they will be arrested, quite simply," he said. "But we have the ability to have a level of tolerance—breathing room, if you will," Bratton said.

Now, there is no way this was a deliberate reference to Garner's final words as a cop killed him—it just couldn't be, no one's that big a jerk.

But this unfortunate choice of words under the circumstances points up something Bratton needs to inculcate in his officers down the line: Potentially deadly force might be justified in preventing harm to citizens' lives or property.

It should not be a mere tool of enforcing obediance in a situation that involves none of those things. Police not only should have "breathing room" to not enforce the law to the letter and with utmost force—they should understand that it is never appropriate to do so when it involves potentially deadly force over matters not related to protecting lives or property.

It's nice that speaking colloquially, even Bratton understands the difference between "actual crime" and just not obeying officers commands.

Especially in the unfortunate world we live in when there are laws the police are expected to enforce over selling cigarettes without giving the government a cut.

Reason on Garner. Do note we were on this and outraged about it from the start.

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  1. Bill “obeying police is what democracy is all about” Bratton can go fuck himself.

    1. The Twitchy commenters are all over that.

  2. Now, there is no way this was a deliberate reference to Garner’s final words as a cop killed him?it just couldn’t be, no one’s that big a jerk.

    OK, but it’s interesting sans Garner that he used a euphemism like “breathing room” when he could have used the 100% appropriate and accurate term “tolerance of victimless crime”.

    Bratton knows that the only tolerance he really wants to give is when an officer assigned to something else just “happens” to notice some victimless crime occurring. But when he tasks a set of officers to enforce victimless crime, deadly force is still standard procedure.

    1. But when he tasks a set of officers to enforce victimless crime, deadly force is still standard procedure.

      In any conceivable interaction with police, deadly force is standard procedure.

  3. This is a miscarriage of justice.

    The local prosecutor that works closely worth the police should be peppercorn the police. We truly need special prosecutors.

    In a grand jury setting, the prosecutor can present evidence in either way. And I just don’t trust them when it comes to police.

    1. My phone sucks.

      The local prosecutor souls be excused and special prosecutors from another jurisdiction should prosecute the local police.

      This case is worth rioting for.

      It seems that cameras didn’t help in this case. The cop obviously choked this man to death.

    2. My phone sucks.

      The local prosecutor souls be excused and special prosecutors from another jurisdiction should prosecute the local police.

      This case is worth rioting for.

      It seems that cameras didn’t help in this case. The cop obviously choked this man to death.

  4. So can protesters expect to be choked to death or not? Let’s clarify the policies here.

  5. Just waiting with bated breath for what comes next. I’m sure the Mayor will breathlessly announce the need for calm, and everyone will breathe a sigh of relief if things remain so.

    Fuck the NYPD and the mayor of NYC and….whomever else merits a good fucking.

    1. My mother could probably use one. Been awhile since my pa skipped town. She’s a good woman, though, certainly deserving.

  6. Now, there is no way this was a deliberate reference to Garner’s final words as a cop killed him?it just couldn’t be, no one’s that big a jerk.

    Yes, it could.

  7. I guess, my question here, is what is a police officer to do if someone refuses arrest? I don’t know the particulars here, and I am not trying to say that this all was justified for that reason.

    If you are caught in the act of doing something illegal (whether we agree with the law or not), what should the police do if you try to inflict bodily harm to avoid being arrested? Should the crime you are suspected of doing be considered by the cop such that they potentially let someone violent enough go if the crime doesn’t warrant a potentially deadly situation?

    I guess I’m trying to ascertain at which point the cops went wrong here. Again, I am not privy to the details, but it sounds like:

    1) The guy was breaking a stupid law
    2) Cops caught him red-handed
    3) They attempted to arrest him
    4) He fought violently
    5) Cops attempted repeatedly to subdue him
    6) One cop eventually killed him while holding him down

    Certainly #1 needs to be fixed, but that’s not the fault of the cops. Is it that the cops should have used a different method to subdue him? I.e. should choke holds be prohibited in this case? Or is the position of Libertarians that a lighter crime should not bring any such violent reaction from cops, even if that means the guy gets away when this forces them to disengage?

    Or is there something else in the story that I didn’t get (like he had stopped resisting and then they continued choking him to death)?

    1. I know this probably came off as a concern-troll post. I hope you will understand that my base assumption here is that the cops were wrong since a man is dead. But I’m trying to see where cops should have changed their behavior to prevent this in the first place.

    2. Man with a gun and hostages – cops seal off the area and call in a trained negotiator to talk the guy down.

      Unarmed man caught violating tax laws (a *non-violent* crime) – jumped by multiple cops and held down and strangled.

      The real reason for the difference in approach – one has a high potential for officer injury and the other doesn’t

  8. Now, there is no way this was a deliberate reference to Garner’s final words as a cop killed him?it just couldn’t be, no one’s that big a jerk.

    How convinced are you of this?

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