NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The family of a Staten Island man who died in police custody have met with federal prosecutors in Brooklyn.
Sharpton arrived for the meeting with Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, his wife, Esaw Garner, and his daughter Erika Garner. They are demanding an investigation into Garner’s death last week.
An amateur video shows a plainclothes police officer placing Garner in what appears be a chokehold after Garner refuses to be handcuffed. Police had suspected Garner of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes on the street.
The video shows the officer putting his arm around Garner’s neck as Garner is taken to the ground and his face is pushed into the sidewalk. Garner, before losing consciousness, is heard yelling repeatedly, “I can’t breathe!”
Police officials said Garner died while being transported to the hospital, but that a preliminary investigation showed no damage to his windpipe. Autopsy results are pending.
Sharpton said the video of the incident makes it clear that Garner’s civil rights were violated.
“The EMS workers and the other police did nothing intentionally to stop the illegal use of a chokehold,” Sharpton said after the meeting with federal prosecutors.
The tactic is banned by the NYPD, but has been the subject of more than 1,000 complaints to the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board over the last five years. The technique is not illegal under state law.
One officer, Daniel Pantaleo, has been stripped of his gun and badge pending an investigation. Another has been placed on desk duty.
Four EMTs who responded to the call were suspended without pay pending the investigation, Richmond University Medical Center said.
The NYPD has vowed to retrain its officers on the use of force. The training includes sending a team of officers to Los Angeles to learn how that city’s police department modified its use-of-force protocols after several high-profile episodes of brutality.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said multiple investigations are underway in Garner’s death and more are expected.
A criminal investigation already has been launched by the Staten Island District Attorney’s Office, along with an internal police investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau.
Sharpton is also calling for all officers involved to be prosecuted.
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