I have some questions about this case. but first, I’d like to restrict the careless use of the terms “chokehold” and “choked” from the discussion. Does nobody bother to understand the difference between CHOKING and STRANGLING? CHOKING is blockage of the airway, usually at the trachea, preventing breathing. Death ensues in a minute, or less. STRANGLING is blockage of blood circulation to and from the brain, by blocking the major veins and arteries in the neck.
Death from this takes a little longer, but results in unconsciousness in much less time. Both choke holds and strangleholds, on an adult. require two, locked hands or some instrument, such as a rope or necktie, to apply pressure to the airway, veins and arteries, in any combination. The video is poor, but the ME’s report denies any injury to the airway or bones of the neck, making it VERY unlikely that either a choke or strangle WAS EVER APPLIED.
The dead man was obese (MORBIDLY obese, I would say, from the video), and it is a matter of record that he had multiple, chronic medical problems of the type associated with obese men, including but probably not limited to, Congestive Heart Failure, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (asthma and “heart disease” are often quoted from the ME’s report), hypertension, kidney failure and other contestants in what was already a horse race to see which killed him before the others could.
The point of the above is to assert that he may have been on the verge of collapse and death before this event. I DON’T rule out that his death may have been made immediate by the stress of his arrest, including wrestling with cops trying to handcuff him, and possibly even sitting or kneeling on his thorax to control him. The continuous pressure of an adult male on Garner’s chest or back, compressing his thorax and impeding return blood flow from his body to his heart, and keeping him from taking a full breath, would have done nothing to help his blood circulation or his ability to breathe.
Whatever happened out of sight of the camera, his respiration was good enough for him to complain loudly enough to be heard in the video that he couldn’t breathe. If you can’t breathe, YOU CAN’T TALK, because it takes moving air to talk. He was talking, and therefore, breathing, during the arrest.
It is entirely possible he was having a heart attack or some life-threatening arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat that doesn’t circulate blood), while the arrest was going on. It may not have been detected until he was in the ambulance, on an EKG monitor, or maybe not even then. Whatever caused the cardiac arrest in the ambulance, the takedown on the street certainly could have contributed to it, but he could easily have dropped dead on the street that day, with no one else to blame, because of his abuse and neglect of his own body.
As far as the force used, that was the result of new laws on the books at the state or city level that were intended to recover lost revenue that was supposed to roll in as a result of absurdly high state and local taxes on cigarettes. As much as New York’s government hates free markets, the forces that drive them are like gravity, and cannot be pushed aside by sin taxes and “revenuers.”
Government greed was the first and most significant contributor to this man’s death, followed closely by his own behavior, short-term and long-term. NOT a police choke hold, but a government choke hold. It probably would not have happened as it did, if New York City and State weren’t trying to choke every last cent of revenue out of their residents, to fund their bloated, inefficient and corrupt governments.