‘I Can’t Breathe!’: NYPD Cops Kill ‘Gentle Giant’ Father-of-6 Over Untaxed Cigarettes (That He Didn’t Actually Have)
A Staten Island man died on Thursday after an NYPD officer put him in a chokehold and another officer appeared to slam his head on the sidewalk in the video of the fatal cigarette bust.
“I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” 43-year-old Eric Garner yelled as five NYPD officers took him down after he suspected of selling untaxed cigarettes.
Within moments the father of six and grandfather of two stopped struggling and appeared to go limp. He was unconscious when paramedics arrived.
“When I kissed my husband this morning, I never thought it would be for the last time,” Garner’s wife, Esaw, told The NY Daily News. “I saw him with his eyes wide open and I said, ‘Babe, don’t leave me, I need you.’ But he was already gone.”
At the hospital, the victim’s widow spoke with Internal Affairs Detective Howard who told her, “I’m sorry for your loss,” and said his office was now involved “because there is wrongdoing.”
An NYPD spokesman only said the man “was being placed in custody, went into cardiac arrest and died.”
“They’re covering their asses, he was breaking up a fight,” Esaw said. “They harassed me and harassed my husband until they killed him.”
Though officers say they saw Garner selling untaxed cigarettes, Garner’s family says they didn’t find any cigarettes on him or in his car.
In a video obtained by the Daily News, Garner yells, “I didn’t do sh*t!” as the officers approach. “I was just minding my own business. Every time you see me you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today.”
Ramsey Orta, a 22-year-old witness who shot the video, tried to intervene, telling the cops that Garner had just broken up a fight between three men and didn’t have any cigarettes.
“They jumped him and they were choking him,” Orta said. “He was foaming at the mouth. And that’s it, he was gone. The cops were saying, ‘No, he’s OK, he’s OK.’ He wasn’t OK.”
“They were choking him,” witness Valencia Griffin said. “He kept saying, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe. Get off me, get off me’ and I didn’t hear any more talking after that. He died right there.”
District Attorney Daniel Donovan Jr. has released a statement, saying, “My office is working along with the NYPD to do a complete and thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Garner’s death.”