Yesterday afternoon I listened to New York Mayor Bill De Blasio's public comments following the decision of the Staten Island grand jury not to indict the "chokehold" officer in the case of Eric Garner's death. Without making a direct statement, Mayor De Blasio said that the cause of Eric Garner's death was racist police officers.
The medical examiner in the case said the official cause of death was "neck compression from the chokehold, along with “the compression of his chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police”. Contributing factors included bronchial asthma, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and hypertensive cardiovascular disease." He ruled the death a homicide.
There are varying definitions of homicide. If you Google the word you will get the definition of "the deliberate and unlawful killing of one person by another; murder." Merriam Webster defines homicide as "a killing of one human being by another." The legal definition of the word seems to agree with the Merriam Webster definition. Cornell University's legal department defines it as "...when one human being causes the death of another. Not all homicide is murder, as some killings are manslaughter, and some are lawful, such as when justified by an affirmative defense, like insanity or self-defense."
I have to say I personally would hesitate to call insanity "an affirmative defense."
So even if the coroner's conclusion was correct legally, was the cause of death of Eric Garner murder? The grand jury didn't think so. I've seen the video. At some point during his struggle with police Mr. Garner began saying "I can't breathe. I can't breathe." He said it eleven times. I spent 22 years working in federal prisons and participated in countless use of force situations. Over the years I heard several inmates make that same statement when a use of force team was holding them down on the floor during a struggle in which the inmate resisted being restrained. One thing I learned during those incidents is that when a man says he can't breathe - he's breathing. If you can't breathe you can't talk.
The media is throwing around the word "chokehold." A chokehold, if executed properly, compresses not only the trachea but the carotid arteries, causing unconsciousness within about 15 - 20 seconds. That did not happen to Mr. Garner. The officer who put his arm around Garner's neck to bring him down did so for 20 - 30 seconds, until Garner was prone on the ground, then released his neck hold and held Garner's head on the ground - a technique that greatly reduces a suspects ability to resist. Other officers were on top of Garner attempting to apply handcuffs when Garner stopped breathing. The point is that Garner was still breathing when the officer released his hold on Garner's neck.
New York Mayor Bill De Blasio made a statement yesterday afternoon concerning the verdict and basically through police nationwide under the bus. His remarks, without coming right out and stating it plainly, indicated that he believes police are systematically killing black Americans just because they are black. He talked about the centuries old problem the US has with racism - as if there is some evidence that Eric Garner was attacked by police because he was black. He mentioned 12 year old Tamir Rice, the boy killed by police in Cleveland, as have other liberal idiots, but he and the others always fail to mention that the kid was in possession of a very realistic pellet gun that looked exactly like a real 9mm pistol.
It seems liberal politicians nationwide have simply written off law enforcement officers as racist murderers of black people. Even though the evidence in the Michael Brown case, the Rice case and the Garner case showed the police did nothing wrong or illegal, these politicians are condemning the police for their actions, some calling for prosecution of police before any facts are known just because the dead suspect is black. Some even going as far as raising their hands on the floor of the House of Representatives the other day. It's quite shameful.
President Obama has promised to focus on the problem of "racist cops" following the grand jury decision in the Ferguson case. He has yet to say once that Michael Brown had any responsibility whatsoever in the incident that cost him his life. And of course, Eric Holder has vowed not only to try to bring civil rights charges against Darren Wilson in Missouri and Daniel Pantaleo in New York. Holder, against all of the evidence, has decided these two police officers violated the civil rights of the suspects even though they have been cleared of wrongdoing by the grand jury. Not to worry though - he promised the same thing against George Zimmerman. But he couldn't find any evidence despite his nationwide campaign.
Interestingly, during the peaceful protests last night some of the protesters were chanting "Hands up - don't shoot," as if Eric Garner had been shot by police. The attorney for the Garner family said that when he watched the video he didn't see Eric Garner resisting arrest - he was Garner put his hands up in surrender. Did I watch the same video as the lawyer and the protesters? Is there another one I haven't seen yet?
Or do some people simply ignore the facts in order to push their own agenda? I think we all know the answer to that question.