It has almost been a year since the chokehold death of 43 year old Eric Garner at the hands of the New York City police in Staten Island on July 17, 2014.
The father of six was accused of selling loose untaxed cigarettes and when he refused to be handcuffed he was placed in a chokehold and wrestled to the ground by numerous cops. The incident was recorded on the cellphone of good samaritan Ramsey Orta and you can hear Garner cry out over ten times, “I can’t breathe!” before he loses consciousness and later dies. According to Fox NY, “An autopsy concluded he died in part from neck compressions from the chokehold restraint by police.”
As a result of this tragedy, Daniel Pantaleo, the officer involved managed to avoid criminal prosecution, but remains assigned to desk duty and a federal investigation is ongoing.
Garner’s death coupled with the refusal to indict officer Pantaleo sparked protests for police brutality and civil rights throughout the world. The “Black Lives Matter” campaign emerged uniting all races chanting “I can’t breathe.”
After the case, the New York City Police Department has enacted a series of changes including a three-day training for all officers on how to better communicate with the public. Over 20,000 officers were trained on how to curb confrontations in order to avoid physical contact unless absolutely necessary.
Commissioner William Bratton revealed a new policing plan that puts cops back on the beat, strolling their precincts to become more familiar with neighborhood residents. Bratton has also revised how rookies enter the police academy, ridding the policy of putting new inexperienced cops to the most crime stricken areas. Instead rookies are spread out around the city allowing them to learn from more seasoned cops how to interact with the public.
Garner’s family wants justice and is doing their best to heal and keep his name alive while continuing to advocate for police reform.
“I want people to be aware of what’s happened. I want to make sure they never forget the name of Eric Garner I’m going to keep that name alive,” Garner’s mother stated.