Eric Garner, a Black man arrested for selling loose cigarettes, was killed by police on Monday night. A judicial inquiry into his death began Monday (Oct. 25).
Erika Edwards ordered 13 witnesses, including NYPD officers and sergeants to testify about Garner’s 2014 death to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the death. In the nine-day trial, the focus will be on the use of force against Garner, his arrest, alleged leaks from the autopsy report regarding his arrest history and medical condition, and Garner’s lack of medical care.
In his remarks during the proceedings, Edwards said, “To me, it was trailblazing.” He added, “There will be no charges or sanctions.” He said transparency would be the key. A record needs to be established. Basically, it’s all about making sure the public understands what happened and what didn’t happen seven years ago.”
Earlier this year, Garner was charged with selling untaxed cigarettes outside the local store. The alleged assault was denied by Pantaleo, however, NYPD police officers Justin D’Amicoto and Daniel Pantaleo attempted to detain him. Pantaleo used a chokehold on Garner that the police department has prohibited since the 1990s as he attempted to arrest him.
After more than 10 times of saying “I can’t breathe” during the violent altercation, Garner fell unconscious. A police officer left him lying on the sidewalk while an ambulance was en route. A hospital pronounced Garner dead later that day.
Due to the chokehold trigger triggering an asthma attack that ultimately caused his death, New York City’s medical examiner ruled his death to be a homicide. Despite the United States Department of Justice and a Staten Island grand jury deciding not to file criminal charges against Pantaleo, the New York Police Department ended his employment after a Department of Discipline trial.
Alvin Bragg, Garner family attorney, said during the hearing, “These proceedings will further accountability for his death as well as advance racial justice in our criminal justice system, both in our city and nationwide.”