Given the clear video documentation – which shows multiple officers brutally forcing Eric Garner to the ground, one of them putting him in a chokehold and all of them and EMS workers failing to administer CPR – we are not surprised at the New York City Medical Examiner’s ruling that Mr. Garner’s death was caused by homicide. The ME’s findings coupled with the footage constitute overwhelming evidence of unnecessary brutality and criminal activity. All officers involved in the incident should be arrested and charged. The Staten Island District Attorney must move forward with a swift and thorough investigation, convene a grand jury and fully prosecute these officers.
Mayor De Blasio’s responses to the Eric Garner case and the many instances of brutality that have surfaced since as well as his defense of the NYPD’s aggressive, selective enforcement of low-level offenses are unacceptable. What the mayor calls “decades of mistrust” that “we all have a responsibility to work together to heal” in his response to the ME’s findings are, in reality, decades of abuse. It is premature to discuss how to better police-community relations while the philosophy guiding the NYPD’s practices – Broken Windows theory – criminalizes entire communities, and while there is no accountability for officers who unjustly kill New Yorkers. In the context of the NYPD’s long history and on-going practice of violence and abuse towards our communities, to say “we must all work together to heal” police-community relations is like saying, "try to get along with your abuser."
Mayor De Blasio must not hide behind the band-aid solution of revisiting NYPD training, which will result in no accountability for officers who use excessive and deadly force, and he must stop acting like the problem of discriminatory abusive policing has been fixed. He has only to listen to people of color directly impacted by police violence in NYC and watch the videos to see that New Yorkers are suffering an epidemic of police violence right now, under his administration.