A man was killed Thursday by New York police officers after he broke up a fight between two other men, witnesses say.
“I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” the 400 pound asthmatic can be heard repeatedly yelling after officers took him down in front of a Tompkinsville beauty supply store.
Eric Garner, 43, was placed in a chokehold and slammed to the ground, before at least five NYPD officers can been seen piling on top of him as he gasps for air in footage recorded at the scene.
Witnesses kept telling the cops that Garner had not committed a crime, but instead, had actually broken up a fight between two other men. That didn’t appear to matter as police officials would latter say Garner had a history of arrests for selling untaxed cigarettes and the cops were moving in for an arrest after they observed him selling his wares Thursday on Bay Street.
Only moments after being subdued, Garner, a married father of six children with two grandchildren, ceases struggling and appears to become unconscious as police call paramedics to the scene.
A NYPD spokesman would only say the man “was being placed in custody, went into cardiac arrest and died” at Richmond University Medical Center.
Garner’s wife Esaw, however, says the police are just trying down play their involvement in her husbands death by blaming it on the large mans health problems. “They’re covering their asses, he was breaking up a fight. They harassed and harassed my husband until they killed him,” she said.
Esaw said she pleaded with police at the hospital to tell her what happened, but they brushed her off. “They wouldn’t tell me anything,” she said.
Garner’s family said he didn’t have any cigarettes on him or in his car at the time of his death. Records show Garner was due in court in October on three Staten Island cases, including charges of pot possession and “possession of or selling untaxed cigarettes.”
Esaw said her husband was unable to work because he suffered from a host of ailments, including chronic asthma, diabetes and sleep apnea, forcing him to make ends meet as a street vendor.
An internal affairs investigation has been launched to review the incident.