"The Policies That Killed Eric Garner"


As noted earlier, the cop who put Eric Garner in the chokehold that led to his death was not indicted by a Staten Island grand jury. Whatever you think about that, it's time to examine the "broken windows" policing policies that contributed to a man dying after being accused of selling loose cigarettes.

From my new Daily Beast column:

Garner's death in July after being placed in a chokehold is not simply about race. It's about community policing and the ability of top brass to enforce restrictions on beat cops' behavior. As cell phone footage of the incident makes clear, the police approached the 43-year-old Garner after he had helped to break up a fight on a busy street in Staten Island. The cops were less interested in the fight than in asking Garner whether he was selling loose cigarettes or "loosies," which is illegal. "Every time you see me, you wanna arrest me," says Garner, who had a rap sheet for selling loosies and was in fact out on bail when confronted.

Footage of the incident shows New York Police Department Officer Daniel Pantaleo placing Garner in the chokehold that was the main cause of death according to the coroner, who further ruled the death a "homicide." (Police at the scene initially claimed that the asthmatic, 350-pound Garner had suffered a heart attack). Like Wilson, Pantaleo was not indicted….

There's little question that New Yorkers support arrests for low-level offenses. A Quinnipiac Poll of New Yorkers in August found that 60 percent of respondents agreed that "when a cop enforces some low-level offense…it improve[s] quality of life." Only 34 percent said it increased neighborhood tensions, with "very little difference among black and white voters."

Yet clearly something has gone horribly wrong when a man lies dead after being confronted for selling cigarettes to willing buyers. Especially since, as even Bratton has acknowledged, the chokehold applied by the restraining officer is prohibited by the NYPD's own rulebook. Does the commissioner really control his officers, and is it time to rethink nanny state policies that create flourishing underground markets?

Whole thing here.

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  1. At this point, I don't know what it will take to wake people up.

    1. Many people think this is proper action by the police and the city.

    2. Most folk won't wake up until they're sitting in Room 101 with a rat cage on their head.

  2. Killed for selling his private property. I wonder how much taxes the city wants on a single smoke? I'll bet the fines are to make up of for it. You have to pay to live I guess. What's next,charging sales tax on items sold on Craig's List? That may cause a need for SWAT raid.

    1. Killed for selling his private property while black.

      1. well hell,why didn't you say so?

  3. Don't you people understand? He was selling cigarettes! He was killing people! The police had to do what they did in order to protect the lives of innocent American childrens! It's fitting that he died choking, because think of all the people he caused to die choking by selling them deathsticks!!!!

    1. Next up,SWAT raids on McDonald's ,BK ect

        1. No,I don't

    2. He was NOT selling at the time. It was a false arrest that is why he resisted.

  4. Garner's death in July after being placed in a chokehold is not simply about race. It's about community policing and the ability of top brass to enforce restrictions on beat cops' behavior.

    "Beat Cops"? I thought putting police on a beat made them get to know the neighborhood better, and thus less likely to assault people. That's what was implied on NPR this morning.

  5. Incredibly, here we have a case where the victim is dead because police violated their own policies on chokeholds.

    And still no indictment.

    I guess we can conclude that policies mean nothing unless they are handy for getting a cop off.

    Kill somebody while complying with policy: good kill, regardless of the law.

    Kill somebody while violating policy: good kill, because totality of the circs, hth, smooches.

    There's no consequences for violating the law, because immunity. There's no consequences for violating policy, because FYTW.

    1. But boy cams are the answer! bull crap

        1. body,damn,well,maybe for Tony

  6. Police at the scene initially claimed that the asthmatic, 350-pound Garner had suffered a heart attack

    Suicide. Case CLOSED.


  7. So it sounds as if we are being warned to worry not so much about the policE as the policIES. Makes sense to me.

  8. That someone should be killed over something that shouldn't be illegal in the first place (selling something you lawfully own) is the very definition of tragedy. Compounding this heartbreak, I have not heard one of TV's talking heads, even on Fox, question the rationale for this bureaucratic policy (at least not tonight--I don't know if anything was said earlier).

    A highly questionable policy being enforced with a tactic prohibited by the PD's own policies--injustice.

    1. Check out Greg Gutfield and friends on Red Eye or the Five.

  9. The entire issue is the policies and "rules of engagement" of police throughout the US. These policies will never be changed through the regular legislative process for the execution of whatever laws are passed would still be enforced by the police. The elected city politicians have proven they will not address this escalating issue across the US.

    Independent panel of elected citizens with no previous or present connection to the local system of justice or with the city should review all complaints of police abuse of force and all police use of deadly force. These citizens must have the right to dismiss any officer from city employment regardless of existing use of DA's prosecutorial discretion or grand juries who can continue with existing procedures.

    Police must have independent at arms length reviews in holding them responsible to the citizens of the community. The elected city politicians have proven they will not and this is across the US. And DA's are to cozy with the police department they work with on a daily basis to be objective as do the local judges. And worse, the "independence" of news reporting is known to be slanted these days. A new branch of citizen oversight must be established by the citizens.

    1. I respectfully disagree. We just need less cops. A lot less cops. More top-down bureaucracy will not improve police behaviour. Reduce the number of cops in half, then pay the remaining ones a salary 25% higher. Save money, less deaths.

      Also, a lot less laws.

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