After the chief medical examiner of New York City officially declared Eric Garner’s death a homicide, police union chief Patrick Lynch vehemently defended the New York Police Department, holding a press conference on Tuesday to deny the findings and the video evidence of Garner’s assault by NYPD officers.
“It was not a chokehold,” Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the largest NYPD labor union, told reporters at the assocation’s headquarters. “It was bringing a person to the ground the way we’re trained to do to place him under arrest.”
Garner died in police custody on July 17 after a group of NYPD officers, led by Daniel Pantaleo, restrained him during an arrest by putting him in a chokehold, dragging him to the ground, and slamming his chest and head onto the concrete. The assault was captured on video.
The chokehold is an illegal move that has been banned by the police department since 1993. Garner, who was unarmed, was being placed under arrest for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes on the street, an example of the NYPD’s tactic of focusing on petty misdemeanors as a method to stop larger crimes. The so-called “broken windows” policy has been highly criticized in the past.
According to the autopsy, Garner died from compression of his neck and chest, which was particularly harmful due to Garner’s asthma. The video shows Garner repeating, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe” as he is pulled to the ground. Garner’s large size and hypertensive cardiovascular disease also contributed to his death, the report stated.
Lynch, who is not a doctor, rejected the medical findings by claiming that they were “political.”
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