US man choked by police: A homicide

2014-08-02 08:32
Eric Garner. (National Action Network, AP)

Eric Garner. (National Action Network, AP)

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New York - Medical examiners on Friday ruled that the New York man wrestled to the ground and choked to death in a police arrest in July was a homicide.

Eric Garner, aged 43, a black father of six, died on 17 July after being tackled by white officers for allegedly selling illegal cigarettes in the New York City borough of Staten Island.

An autopsy revealed that Garner suffered "compression of neck [choke hold], compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police", Julie Bolcer, spokesperson for the New York Office of Chief Medical Examiner told local media.

In a video captured by a local resident, Garner cried out repeatedly that he could not breathe as an officer gripped him in a choke hold.

Garner, wearing shorts and unarmed, was shown arguing with two officers before one grabbed him round the neck, wrestled him to the ground and another pressed down his face.

Three other uniformed police officers were also shown arriving to help subdue Garner in the video.

Following the medical examiner's announcement, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio promised "to ensure a fair and justified outcome" and that his administration would continue "to work with all involved authorities," including the district attorney's office.

"On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest sympathies to the family of Eric Garner", de Blasio said.

"We all have a responsibility to work together to heal the wounds from decades of mistrust and create a culture where the police department and the communities they protect respect each other", he said.

The case spotlights the racial tensions in New York, and has sharpened calls for police reform under de Blasio.

African-American civil rights activist Al Sharpton led hundreds of mourners in demands for justice at Garner's funeral last week.

Choke holds are illegal because of concerns over potential deaths.

See the video below. Warning the content is graphic.

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