(WTVM) – Eric Garner, the man New York police killed using a chokehold, which is against NYPD policy, is now the latest symbol of protests against racial injustice.
Garner's case is different in many ways from the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, MO. For one thing, cell phone video shows clearly what happened to Eric Garner.
His final words, "I can't breathe," are now the rallying cry of protesters who cannot believe the officer who brought Garner down to the ground is not being held criminally liable in any way.
Garner's family may get some of the justice they seek in a wrongful death suit they filed, but the anger over his manner of death is understandable.
Many debate whether Garner's offence: selling loose cigarettes even merited such a big police response.
It's clear that better choices should have and could have been made at every level by everyone involved.
But it's also clear that Garner was not violent, he did not commit a violent crime, and he did not present a life-and-death threat to the multiple officers who surround him.
Yes, police have a difficult job to do.
Yes, Garner should not have resisted arrest in the first place.
Yes, Garner argued with police and made it difficult to handcuff him.
But once they took Garner to the ground by grabbing him around the neck, and he repeatedly said he could not breathe, the police should have adjusted their response, not continue to press Garner's face into the sidewalk.
Police around the country and here at home do so many heroic and dangerous things to keep us safe.
We owe them our thanks and respect.
But in the case of Eric Garner, the NYPD officers made a bad decision in the technique they used to subdue Garner, and they should be held accountable for the fact that it resulted in his death.
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