Eric Garner

Will Grand Jury Investigating Eric Garner's Choking Death Lead to New Outrage?

|

But he was costing the city, like $100 in tax revenue or something!

In New York City, another grand jury investigating possible police misconduct that led to a man's death is getting close to rendering a decision. In July, Eric Garner died after being placed in a chokehold by a police officer when he refused to surrender. His alleged crime: Selling untaxed cigarettes.

New York City is ramping up for potential protests depending on whether the grand jury indicts Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the deadly encounter. The police are warning that they're prepared to deal with anybody who causes too much trouble. From the New York CBS affiliate:

Sources earlier told CBS2 the NYPD will use the same model as it did to handle Occupy Wall Street protests.

Those plans include assigning NYPD task force units to 12-hour shifts, sending in a large contingent of officers on scooters, as well as on foot, and keeping barricade units on standby along with mounted units and aviation.

Sources stressed, however, that the NYPD response to any future Garner case protest will not be "heavy-handed" unless there is immediate damage to people or property. The watch words are "breathing room."

But despite the number of anti-police protests in New York City over the past week, officials emphasized Tuesday that the city is a place that is actively committed to police reform and improving community relations.

Officials said there has been a 79 percent drop in the number of stop, question and frisk actions, and a 16 percent increase in gun seizures from the stops that have been made.

"We want to go after the bad guys. We don't want to go after innocent, law-abiding New Yorkers who just happen to be walking down the street," de Blasio said.

De Blasio may say that now, but back after the Garner incident he was defending police enforcement of petty laws in New York City. Ed Krayewski took note here. "Law-abiding" is not a particularly useful phrase when your city outlaws so many things. Also related: earlier today, A. Barton Hinkle noted how New York City's extremely high taxes on cigarettes leads to smuggling. The city has nobody to blame for its cigarette black market but itself.

Personally, I'm not willing to predict how the grand jury might decide. Garner's arrest was caught on video, which eliminates a lot of ambiguity about what actually happened, unlike Michael Brown's shooting death. Coroner's reports pin Garner's death on the chokehold and the police's restraint of him at the scene. On the other hand, he was refusing to cooperate with the police, and there's a large contingent of people who will therefore lay the blame on him for whatever happened next, even if it was just over contraband cigarettes.

Reason's annual Webathon is underway! Your (tax-deductible!) gift will help Reason magazine, Reason.com, and Reason TV bring the case for "Free Minds and Free Markets" to bigger and bigger audiences. For giving levels and associated swag, go here now.
 

Advertisement

NEXT: Cops Seize Man's Property, Freeze Bank Accounts—And He Wishes They Would Charge Him with a Crime

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.jobsfish.com

    1. Fuck. I’m on my phone and accidentally clicked the link. Should I throw the phone away…what is procedure here?

  2. Noncompliance with cop orders can result in death or serious injury. Even when the underlying crime is trivial. What’s wrong with this picture?

    Where we went wrong with police is treating them as anything other than civilians who deal with crime prevention and response. Nothing more and nothing less.

    1. The laws themselves may be to blame – if the cop complied with the law that wouldn’t make him morally innocent, and it would certainly reflect badly on NY policymakers.

      How many people on Park Avenue get choked to death when they don’t pay taxes?

      1. It’s easy to go overboard with the use of force when the personal consequences are so limited. If cops were treated as regular citizens, they’d be less willing to use deadly force except when they really have to.

        1. The dude was 400 pounds and suffered from “chronic asthma, diabetes and sleep apnea”, you could not design a more perfect victim of positional asphyxia.

          Honestly, I don’t know why the cops just didn’t let him run. What’s the furthest he could have gotten before getting an asthma attack, half a block?

          1. And what is the worst he would have done had he gotten away? A little perspective and cost/benefit would do the cops some good as well.

            1. And what is the worst he would have done had he gotten away? A little perspective and cost/benefit would do the cops some good as well.

              Most people that possess the ability to perform these functions get real jobs.

      2. How many people on Park Avenue get choked to death when they don’t pay taxes?

        If you’re Al Sharpton, you get invited to the White House!

        1. Hell, Tim Geitner made Secretary of the Treasury.

      3. it would certainly reflect badly on NY policymakers.

        HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Like they give a fuck.

    2. Every law, no matter how trivial, has an unspoken addendum:

      Failure to obey is punishable, on the spot, by whatever means the officer at the seem deems appropriate.

      If you want to know what the law of the land is, that’s it. All the rest is just preliminary handwaving to allow the State to get to the One True Violation:

      Failure to Obey.

      1. If someone resists arrest for a minor offense, it’s not like they’re likely to flee the jurisdiction or start killing people in the streets. I’m not saying that police shouldn’t have any power to detain people, but it would be better to let the guy go and take other measures to arrest him rather than using lethal force. Some reasonableness, you know?

        1. Some reasonableness, you know?

          “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

          George Washington

          1. I’m curious how such a man ever existed, and how a population ever existed to elect him.

            1. It was a different time, anon–a better time.

            2. The sad irony is that many at the time would have supported crowning him king.

              1. The sad irony is that many at the time would have supported crowning him king.

                I sort of wish they had. It would be a lot more honest.

              2. The sad irony is that many at the time would have supported crowning him king.

                I have mixed feelings about that. Assuming GW was as noble (for lack of a better word) as history appears to remember him, perhaps they were justified in their feelings, regardless of how wrong they were logically.

            3. The number of things that had to go right to give birth to this country boggles the mind. It’s almost enough to make me understand why Mormons chalk it up to Divine Intervention*.

              *I don’t know if this is what Mormons actually believe.

              1. It will make you believe in fate or God if you think about it long enough. It should never have happened.

                1. Whether or not you do, the Enlightenment and the American embodiment of it was a miracle. One we were fortunate enough to receive, yet stupid enough to piss all over.

              2. Many people at the time believed in Providence.

                The evidence available makes this atheist skeptical of his own beliefs, just a bit.

                1. Most government employees still believe they are chosen to do God’s work.

        2. take other measures to arrest him

          The police get super-pissed when they are inconvenienced.

    3. Where we went wrong with police is treating them as anything other than civilians who deal with crime prevention and response.

      I’d argue that we went wrong with police when we tasked them with crime prevention.

      1. Cops don’t prevent crime. They investigate it. If they feel like it that is.

        1. I see we’re using the term “investigate” loosely now.

      2. If the existence of police provides some deterrent effect, I’m OK with them preventing crime in that way. But as soon as their job description explicitly includes crime prevention rather than just being around to catch people who have done crime already, I think you are right. That’s just encouraging them to violate people’s rights and get involved where they are not wanted or needed. It is a similar problem to that of trying to enforce laws against victimless “crime”.

        1. Zeb, that’s pretty much what I meant. The mere existence of a law is a deterrent; when you start guessing who *might* break the law based upon whatever flimsy premise you choose to start with, you’ve pretty much ruined any chance of justice prevailing.

          1. Justice requires just laws. The existence of so many unjust laws on the books combined with the perverse incentives to enforce them while ignoring the just ones means justice has no chance of prevailing.

            1. Well obviously justice has no chance of prevailing in the current climate, but that’s an entirely different discussion. I was just saying that laws “providing the police with tools to combat crimez!” that have not yet been committed are absolutely no different than arresting people for thinking about how they’d rob a bank, which I’m near about sure everyone has thought of at some point in time.

              Arrest now, dig some shit up to keep em locked up later. No more uppity negroes.

        2. just being around to catch people who have done crime already,

          The problem is you have a much narrower definition of “crime” than the state has.

    4. This is something police need to start coping with. If a guy runs from a trivial crime and you can’t catch him without killing him, you should let him go. Suck it up, let him go.

      Had the Z-boys of Dogtown started their skateboarding trend today, they’d all be dead, choked to death or shot by police. Think about it.

      1. They usually DO let it go… if it’s someone else or someone else’s property being affected. Since we’re talking about the STATE taking a tax hit, the police will never let it go.

        (I’d bet most police officers on typical beats would let it go, but there’s always the few police who want to make brownie points. There is also the occasional police priority detail – sent from on high – who let everything go except the one thing they are supposed to be on the detail for. I’m pretty sure this case is one of the latter.)

  3. I would guess that the law of NY allows cops to use proportionate force against those who resist arrest, even for prohibition/tax offenses. If the cop complied with the law(and I don’t know), then don’t scapegoat him for NY’s idiotic tobacco tax.

    Now, assuming this cop is just a scapegoat (a possibility I’m willing to entertain):

    I bet if there wasn’t a grand jury, the prosecutor wouldn’t want to take the responsibility of ending the case and would have simply sent the matter to trial. So a grand jury is a useful buffer in cases where the prosecutor knows the evidence isn’t there, but (s)he doesn’t want to piss off the mob so puts the responsibility on grand jurors.

    The Zimmerman case shows what happens when there isn’t a grand jury to prevent dogs of cases from going to trial.

    1. I would guess that the law of NY allows cops to use proportionate force against those who resist arrest

      Which, honestly, is not a terrible policy in and of itself. But I do think I read that choke holds are not allowed.

      1. In principle, yeah, that’s one of few legit privileges the cops should have.

        It points up the deeper problem: that we have way, way, WAY too many laws on the books that open the door for them to kill people for failure to obey.

        1. I would argue that it is not a privilege that cops have. Anyone should be able to place someone under arrest if they have evidence that that person committed a crime. Anyone should be able to use proportionate force to protect themselves and others if they have evidence that someone else poses a threat. And anyone who fucks up and detains someone or uses force without just cause should face the possibility of civil and maybe criminal liability. Cops are (or should be) simply treated as people who are paid to do those things.

  4. I thought choke holds were illegal?

    1. If so, throw the book at Officer Strangle.

  5. The oddity is that this is a case that strikes me as a lot more deserving of outrage than that of Michael Brown. It almost strikes me that honesty was this case’s worst enemy.

    1. Except he was facilitating smoking – which is way more evil than robbery. Half the country probably thinks he deserved it.

      1. Yep, the anti-smoking zealots and tax-fetishists would both gladly piss on his grave.

  6. I bet the Grand Jury indicts. That being said, this case offers little opportunity for the race mongers. The cop is clearly wrong here and all but the real boot licker white people will agree with that.

    The only thing about this tragedy that is amusing is the position it puts white liberal New Yorkers in. The victim’s “crime” was selling bootleg cigarettes. The only reason this guy ever had any interaction with the cops that day is because of NYC’s barbaric cigarette laws. So we have a case of police brutality against a black person in enforcing one the rich white New York liberals’ sacred cow laws. If this case becomes a cause celebre, someone might ask why exactly the NYPD is arresting people for selling cigarettes or might notice how the burden of these laws falls almost entirely on the black community in New York. And those are questions upper east side liberals would prefer not to have to answer or even contemplate.

    1. It’s not even selling cigarettes that got him in trouble. It was selling *untaxed* cigarettes. Then again, in the eyes of some progressives withholding revenue from the government might actually be the worse offense.

      1. Arresting a guy on the street doesn’t seem like typical tax enforcement.

      2. Yes. NYC has enormous taxes on cigarettes and this of course creates an opportunity to make a buck by buying them in low tax places and reselling them in NYC, which is what this guy was doing.

        Liberals in places like NYC pass all of these nanny state laws that do nothing but make war on the poor. Who smokes? Poor people. Who is going to need money badly enough to be willing to risk smuggling cigarettes to make a few dollars? Poor people. All of these kinds of laws are nothing but “lock up poor people so I can feel like I have done something” laws.

        1. The irony of liberals locking up poor people while crying racism is not lost on me.

          1. They cry racism in part to deflect from the classism/caste-fetish they really have.

        2. Who smokes? Poor people.

          Lots of rich people smoke too but of course they are not nearly as impacted by the draconian prices.

          I remember being poor and scrounging for change to afford $2-a-pack smokes in Buffalo – I cannot for the life of me imagine how anyone who still lives there and is not at least upper middle class can afford it. Here in NYC it is much more “affordable”, at least at prevailing wages.

          1. Fewer rich people smoke but yes, the ones who do can afford the taxes. And remember the same people who support this law probably think going to a chic Manhattan cigar bar is great.

      3. Was it untaxed cigarettes? I thought it was selling loose ones (which could be taxed or untaxed, depending on where he got them from).

        1. That is also illegal and therefore punishable by death.

          1. Yeah, I know. Just trying to clarify.

    2. Isn’t the punchline that he wasn’t even selling untaxed cigarettes when he was killed?

      1. I don’t know. I thought he was. But if he wasn’t, that makes it even better. NYC liberals pass laws that allow the NYPD to profile poor, black people.

        1. He could always decide the cop is innocent and not bring the case before the grand jury at all. But these prosecutors who preach so much about individual responsibility don’t want to take responsibility in hot-button cases.

        2. NYC liberals pass laws that allow the NYPD to profile poor, black people.

          I’m from the northeast, and I can tell you without a shred of doubt that the general population is far more racist in the northeast than anywhere else in this country. So it does not surprise me that they create laws that target specific minorities, usually puerto-rican or black.

          1. The Northeast is so segregated. Rich liberal white people in the Northeast don’t live around or near black people. You almost never see a black person in the white suburbs of DC.

            1. Boston’s West End used to be an extremely diverse neighborhood with rich and poor, Blacks, Irish, Jews, Italians, and Brahmins living side by side. In the 1950’s, Federal grants funded the razing of the neighborhood for “urban renewal”. After which, Boston became, and continues to be, one of the most segregated cities in the nation.

              1. What they did to the West End was horrible. And it is now a collection of the worst 50s modern cement building imaginable. But, hey, it moved the Negroes out.

              2. That neighborhood sounds like the middle school I went to. I bet It was a great place to live just like Mark Twain JHS in coney island was a great place to go to school.

            2. That was the thing that probably surprised me the most when I first visited northeastern cities. Growing up I’m Georgia I always heard about segregation, Jim crow etc. But most of the towns and neighborhoods down here are fairly mixed. Even in places where you have very rich, mostly white neighborhoods they’re very close to other mixed or mostly black neighborhoods and the kids from both often go to the same school. When I went to Boston and NY I was amazed at how segregated they were.

          2. the general population is far more racist in the northeast

            This is more true in the rust belt than elsewhere. The elites are racist everywhere but the general population is less racist in NYC than where I’m from (rust belt NY).

        3. It doesn’t matter whether he was “in the act” – he failed to obey.

      2. He wasn’t charging sales tax and forking it over to the state/city. Therefore – tax avoidance.

    3. I bet the Grand Jury indicts.

      I doubt it. The prosecutor will act as the officer’s defendant, and do everything possible to show the dead guy in a bad light while pointing out how wonderful the officer is.

      1. He could always decide the cop is innocent and not bring the case before the grand jury at all. But these prosecutors who preach so much about individual responsibility don’t want to take responsibility in hot-button cases.

      2. We will see. Your bet that a cop won’t be indicted is never a bad one. If it doesn’t happen, I will be very curious to see if the Sharpton gang brings in the rent a mobs to protest.

        This case is outrageous and no way in hell should the people of New York City stand and allow the government not to do something. That said, it is only outrageous if you care about police brutality. I don’t think Sharpton and Holder give a shit about that. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if nothing happens.

      3. The coronor already ruled it a homicide. Unless they somehow kept that fact from the grand jury I see this cop doing time.

        1. A coroner’s inquest isn’t making a legal finding of culpability, just what caused death – homicide just means it was caused by a person, not a judgment on whether it was lawful or not.

          Other findings can be suicide, natural causes, etc. Now, if he had ruled that it was NOT homicide, that may have been exculpatory… so at least that was prevented in this case.

          1. You and your fancy words.

            1. Them fancy words coming from that pretty mouth…

  7. Whenever someone proposes a new law, ask, “are you willing to kill people who resist the enforcement of this law?”

    Only a fanatic would equate an untaxed-cigarette seller with a robber when it comes to killing them for resisting arrest.

    1. Whenever someone proposes a new law, ask, “are you willing to kill people who resist the enforcement of this law?”

      Yep. Most people don’t see it that way.

    2. I would love to see that logic applied to repealing laws.

      I was listening to some NPR story about NYC laws that disproportionately affect minorities. One of them is hanging out on the sidewalk outside your apartment (I forget the exact language, but that is what it means in practice). They interviewed some white guy who’s position was, yeah, it may not be hurting anyone, but someone somewhere “obviously” thought that law was necessary. Quoting him: “Who are we to question that?”

      1. Ree? Uh, rep? Rep eel? Um, I don’t understand.

        /progtard

      2. “Who are we to question that?”

        (assuming you are giving an accurate summary of his views):

        He doesn’t sound like an American freeman, but like a peasant under the Ottomans or the Russian Czars (or in modern Russia, for all I know). Government is like the weather, sometimes it’s favorable and sometimes unfavorable, but what you gonna do, you can’t do anything about it!*

        The difference is that the Czar wasn’t subject to election (though he wasn’t invulnerable to bullets). What kind of American makes the comment you quoted?

        Of course, it’s New York, which was British-occupied in the Revolution.

        *Exception – you can do something about climate change, but not about government abuses

    3. Completely agree – I’ve always called it “The Silver-haired Grandmother” rule – “Would you be willing to put a bullet in the head of your sweet, silver-haired, grandmother to see this law enforced?”

  8. NYPD response to any future Garner case protest will not be “heavy-handed” unless there is immediate damage to people or property. The watch words are “breathing room.”

    You know those sick fucks deliberately chose those words. And they’re laughing and frantically jerking off over the media repeating their little joke vebatim and with a straight face.

  9. OT: Man in Minivan crashes into Big5 sporting goods in Burien attempting Smash-n-Grab.

    SWAT team shows up,SWAT team proceeds to hide from perp in MRAP for five hours.

    http://www.kirotv.com/news/new…..ess/njKBy/

    1. Did they go home safely?

      1. They almost ran out of whiskey inside the MRAP, so no.

      2. They did. The good news, is the perp is in violation of i594 as he attempted to ‘transfer’ a dozen guns without background checks. See? i594 works!

    2. “He rammed the front door, and drove all the way to the gun section.”

      That’s pretty goddamn lazy.

      1. No shit, right? You notice it’s a minivan? It’s always the minivan that passes eighteen perfectly good parking spots to wait five minutes with his signal on for the one closer to the entrance.

        1. Have you seen minivan drivers?

          If my legs had to carry 500 lbs. around, I’d wait 5 minutes too.

          1. You are a bad man, anon. Berry berry bad.

        2. You know who’s a real menace on the road ? Soccer dad’s driving Volvo station wagons…when driving alone those guys have a real chip on their shoulder. It’s like, dude, I’m sorry wifey made you trade in the Mustang along with your balls, but back off.

          1. I’ll second this. Volvo drivers are the worst in part because they think they are driving magic safety vehicles.

    3. I skimmed that story, and this seems like an example where SWAT actually makes sense, trying to wait out the guy shows some restraint, and using a flash bang could plausibly be justified. I get so used to outrage, it can be difficult to reorient. But this seems like a case where the typical citizen is going to ask the libertarian, why do you have a problem with this ?

      1. I skimmed that story, and this seems like an example where SWAT actually makes sense,

        Only if you think a paramilitary strike force is appropriate for every attempted robbery.

        1. Only if you think a paramilitary strike force is appropriate for every attempted robbery.

          Which was neither explicitly stated nor implied by my comment.

  10. “…..keeping barricade units on standby along with mounted units and aviation.”

    What? No “scoops” to haul the rabble to the nearest soylent factory????

    1. So the had infantry in place, Cav and AV on stand by. All they needed was some FA in place – maybe 105mm? – and they would have had an entire combined arms team present (maybe need some Armor?)

  11. “Will Grand Jury Investigating Eric Garner’s Choking Death Lead to New Outrage?”

    This suggests people are both informed and also capable of applying “Outrage” equitably.

    So no.

  12. That picture should be posted on billboards all over the country, with the caption ‘This man received the death penalty for selling untaxed cigarettes’.

    Might make the ‘I don’t pay attention and I don’t care’ crowd just a little uncomfortable.

  13. And nothing else happened.

    And really, who will be outraged? This guy was innocent of anything that deserved to get him even injured, let alone killed. No race baiting to be had here, move along.

    1. ha.

      funny story = I was arrested by London bobbies like the second day I was in town. i was riding the escalator up from the tube, and the rubber handrail was flopping around broken; i saw that it had come off the track, so i pulled it up and then slotted it back on. Immediately = I’m grabbed and the cop goes, “Oy! Right. You’re nicked. Vandalism.” I laughed because it sounded so cliche. He’s starting to get the cuffs out and this little old lady comes over and starts explaing, ‘Boot he feexed it?’ When he hears my American accent he concludes that risk of creating an international incident may be too high, and so lets me go with the warning that, “Oy? ef its broke? LEAVE IT BROKE! Not your job then, is it now?”

      1. Damn, what kind of union rules society is that?!

      2. I didn’t know British cops still acted like that. I would have thought that, today, they’d arrest you for vandalism and arrest the woman for interfering.

        1. And to be fair to the copper, usually when he sees someone fiddling around with public property it *is* vandalism

        2. Was in London 4 years ago. Walking back to the B&B after the fireworks show on New Years eve, it was weird how polite the cops were to people who were lighting there own fire works. Nothing like the I’m-the-boss-listen-to-me chip on the shoulder U.S. cops.

          BTW, I was embarrassed to be an American when our plan landed in the U.S. for our connection. Holiday season, crowded, with understandably befuddle foreigners trying to figure out which way to go — and the TSA yelling at the crowd to walk this way, or walk that way. Treating us all like cattle, or worse, criminals.

          1. Some time back, I recall cops in London trying to talk a drunk down from a lamppost he’d climbed up. It was all fairly easygoing under the circumstances.

  14. Nobody MSM-side has heard of Eric Garner, but everybody MSM-side is ‘outraged’ over Michael Brown.

    So stupid.

  15. This is no Michael Brown (THE THUG) case.

    Eric Garner is part of a BROKEN-WINDOW policy which has a very high opportunity cost (it poisons the well concerning the relationship between the community and the police).

    Eric Garner, at some point in the past sold loose cigarettes. At the time of his apprehension, he was not. The three or four plain clothes ($100k +) detectives clearly had nothing better to do than to deal with a Broken Window.

    This Officer Daniel Pantaleo better be Indicted. If not, then even cameras will not help fixing the policing problem we are having. As per the NYC Police Handbook, a choke-hold is improper and not allowed. That scumbag-Patrick Lynch of the PBA is claiming it is not a choke-hold. I challenge anyone that has seen this video to say it isn’t.

    1. But it wasn’t a choke hold, it was a lateral head restrain maneuver!

      /copologist

  16. The watch words are “breathing room.”

    They’d never get away with that in China.

  17. and a 16 percent increase in gun seizures from the stops that have been made.

    So, from six to seven?

  18. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer ordered that flags be displayed at half-mast on December 2 in memory of Ernest Montoya, a 54-year-old police officer who died in a car crash two days earlier. Montoya, who served 20 years as a tribal officer with the conquered Navajo Nation, apparently HAD A HEART ATTACK while transporting a prisoner to jail.

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc…..by-police/

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.