Just when I thought that some level of consensus had formed around the death of Eric Garner in New York, I got into quite a discussion while posting comments regarding an article someone forwarded to me.
If you don’t want to read the whole article, the author concludes that he “cannot in good conscience say there was insufficient probable cause to indict Officer Pantaleo for involuntary manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide.” His conclusion is based on a standard of reasonableness as regards the use of force by the police.
So, I posted the following comment in response to the article:
“Thank you. I agree with your analysis. There was a point made on TV the other night, which is that he died as a result of the chokehold, but also chest compression from the weight of the other officers. But Pantaleo was the only one the grand jury looked at. That may be why they didn’t indict him, but it’s still a travesty. Forget, for a minute, about the reasonableness test for cops. I don’t see how anyone can watch that video, hear Garner saying repeatedly that he can’t breathe, and think that continuing the chokehold was OK. Did they think he was lying? If so, on what basis?”
Oh boy. Here’s the string of comments that ensued, along with my replies. The handles of the other posters have been changed.
Other Poster #1: “Did it occur to you that if he could talk he could breath?”
Me: “Yes, that does occur to me. I suppose he could have said “I’m having difficulty breathing.” But it wouldn’t have made any difference so far as the actions of the officer.”
Other Poster #1: “Their actions were the correct actions. He did not die as a result of any type of hold.”
Me: “Then why did the coroner’s report conclude that his death was a homicide? I don’t think the New York coroner’s office is engaging in some sort of subjective, conspiratorial scheme.”
Other Poster #1: “The coroner did not say it was due to a chokehold … And the Grand Jury found no wrongdoing on the part of police … So what would be your point?”
Me: “Homicide means he did not die of natural causes. So I guess my point is that he died as a result of the actions of the police. You can debate whether those actions were criminal, but can you at least acknowledge that their actions caused his death ( which would contradict your earlier post)?”
Other Poster #1: “I am not debating anything…if he complies he lives…he chose not to and was taken down in a very efficient manner…his bad health killed him…but it would have been so easy for him to live…the police are not the bad guys…”
Me: “Well, to me, the notion that it’s OK for the police to cause someone’s death trying to arrest them for selling loose cigarettes is debatable. I respectfully disagree with you, sir.”
Other Poster #2: “Are the police supposed to be psychic now? Were they supposed to just know that Mr. Garner was unarmed and going to have a heart-attack?”
Me: “They knew he was unarmed at the point when he was on the ground. The coroner ruled his death a homicide, which means he wouldn’t have had a heart attack at that particular moment but for the actions of the police.”
That’s the whole string. Is it just me or do these other posters seem completely out to lunch?