Family-Appointed Pathologist: Eric Garner’s Death Was Homicide

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – An independent forensic investigator representing the family of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man who died in police custody, agrees his death was a homicide.

Last month, the Medical Examiner’s Office ruled 43-year-old Garner’s death was caused by compression to the neck and chest. Asthma, heart disease and obesity contributed to the death as well, the medical examiner said.

The family’s expert, Forensic Pathologist Michael Baden, agrees, but said the critical element was pressure to the neck.

“Compression of the neck that prevents breathing, for example, trumps everything else,” Baden said.

Baden is also the forensic pathologist who performed an autopsy on Michael Brown, the Missouri teen who was shot by police.

“The type of compression and damage to the neck and chest is consistent with life-saving technicians, EMS or emergency technicians would do in a situation like this. It’s consistent with that, not consistent with a chokehold,” Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said.

Garner, an asthmatic father of six, died on July 17 after being placed in an apparent chokehold by police who were trying to arrest him for allegedly selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.

In cellphone video of the incident, an officer is seen placing his arm around Garner’s neck and then taking him to the ground after Garner refuses to be handcuffed.

Garner is heard saying repeatedly in the video, “I can’t breathe!”

One officer in the incident has been stripped of his gun and another has been put on desk duty.

Two emergency medical technicians have been suspended after allegedly not providing CPR in a timely manner.

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