UK & World News

  • 2 August 2014, 14:11

Chokehold Man's Death 'Was Homicide'

A medical examiner has ruled the death of a New York City man last month was a homicide after he was captured on video being restrained by police.

Eric Garner's death was caused by "the compression of his chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police", medical examiner spokeswoman Julie Bolcer said on Friday.

She added asthma and heart disease also contributed to the July 17 fatality.

The New York Police Department (NYPD) did not immediately respond to the medical examiner's ruling.

Video footage showing Mr Garner being restrained by a white police officer using the banned technique has caused uproar.

Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed his condolences on behalf of all New Yorkers to Mr Garner's family, following the medical examiner's findings.

He said in a statement: "My administration will continue to work with all involved authorities, including the Richmond County District Attorney, to ensure a fair and justified outcome."

He added: "We all have a responsibility to work together to heal the wounds from decades of mistrust and create a culture where the police department and the communities they protect respect each other."

Reacting to the findings on her husband's death, widow Esaw Garner told the New York Daily News she is thankful "the truth is finally out".

The 43-year-old father-of-six was filmed in Staten Island arguing with police who accused him of selling bootleg cigarettes.

The police then surrounded him and when he apparently resisted arrest, one officer wrapped his armed around Mr Garner's neck and wrestled him to the ground.

Mr Garner could be heard shouting "I can't breathe!" as he was held on the pavement.

The officer who put Mr Garner in the chokehold has had his gun and badge revoked pending the investigation.

Another was placed on desk duty, while four emergency medical responders were suspended without pay.

US Attorney General Eric Holder has said the Justice Department is "closely monitoring" the investigation.

The medical examiner's findings come a day after heated talks as Mayor De Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Brattonheld a meeting with community leaders.

Activists at the meeting faulted the NYPD's"broken windows" approach to policing, which holds that stomping out petty crime, such as selling untaxed cigarettes, prevents more serious offences.

Mayor De Blasio and CommissionerBrattonpledged to retrain the police force.

But civil rights activist Rev Al Sharpton told CBS News: "You don't need training if a man is saying 11 times, 'I can't breathe', and you're still holding him in a grip lock."

The NYPDbanned the use of chokeholds more than two decades ago.

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