Thursday, December 04, 2014

A Death In New York

Today a New York grand jury refused to indict an NYPD officer in the death of Eric Gardner, 43 in Staten Island New York.

A cellphone video is posted above,part of a news report.

Here are the facts I know so far.

Unlike the recent Michael Brown affair, Eric Gardner did not assault a police officer,although it's obvious he did resist arrest.This appears to be a real tragedy that will obviously be exploited by the usual suspects.

The police,among them officer Daniel Pantaleo, an 8 year veteran on the force were attempting to arrest Gardner for selling 'loosies', loose single cigarettes. New York (and especially New York City) are some of the greediest places in America when it comes to fines, fees and taxes that prey on its inhabitants. So it's a common crime to buy cigarettes in places like North Carolina where prices and taxes are much lower, sell them on the streets of New York where they have been taxed to the stratosphere and pocket the difference. If this was Wall Street, they'd call it arbitrage. Unlike arbitrage, selling untaxed cigarettes is illegal, but you have to wonder whether a non-violent crime like this would really merit this kind of police presence if it weren't for the Big Apple's revenue from taxes that's involved.

At any event, when the police attempted to arrest Gardner, he reacted violently and began struggling when the police attempted to place him in handcuffs. At that point, Officer Pantaleo grabbed Gardner in some kind of hold from behind, a standard operating procedure to get him on the ground where he could be handcuffed. I use the term 'hold' advisedly and you'll see why shortly.

Gardner, who weighed between 300 and 400 pounds still continued struggling on the ground. At one point, one of the cops can be heard urging Gardner to give him his hand so he can be cuffed.Gardner can also be heard saying repeatedly, "I can't breathe."

Gardner died at the scene.

Here's what information I've been able to gather so far, and it is subject to change as more facts come out. The Grand Jury heard Officer Pantaleo voice his regret for what happened.

“I feel very bad about the death of Mr. Garner,” he said in a statement released by the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. “My family and I include him and his family in our prayers and I hope that they will accept my personal condolences for their loss.”

During his testimony, Pantaleo also explained that he used a standard takedown that he was taught to him at the NYPD Academy.

The Grand Jury also reportedly determined that the term 'choke hold' that's being tossed around so loosely by the media is likely inaccurate. Choke hold has a clearly defined legal meaning. These holds, which cut off the air and the blood supply from the carotid artery to make someone resisting arrest pass out used to be common in police work, but were outlawed in most jurisdictions long ago because they could lead to a fatality.Choke holds are banned for police use in New York City. Had it been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Officer Pantaleo used one, I'm certain he would have been indicted.

Instead, 'take downs' usually involving a headlock or a hold on the neck and/or under lower jaw area that does not cut off the air supply from the carotid artery are taught at the Academy instead,and that's what Pantaleo claims he used. Truthfully we have no way of knowing for sure, although there's some evidence he's telling the truth.

Fatal choke holds when used also normally leave evidence such as damage to the trachea, a broken hyoid bone and damage to the windpipe.The Grand Jury reportedly looked at the autopsy and saw none of these.Since Gardner was able to talk, that's also evidence he wasn't in a choke hold. The medical expert ruled the death a homicide, but in legal terms that doesn't necessarily mean murder. It merely means someone caused death to someone else. The medical examiner also stated that Gardner's acute and chronic bronchial asthma, obesity and hypertensive cardiovascular disease were contributing factors.

Was it necessary to use such a take down? I'm not certain. Could he have been tasered? Again, I'm not certain. Was his physical condition such that any means of restraining him so he could be handcuffed might have led to his death? We don't know.

What we do know is that the prosecutor was unable to present enough evidence to a mixed race jury to get them to vote for an indictment...not for murder, which the politically correct far Left DiBlasio Administration was pushing for, and not for any of the lesser versions such as manslaughter.

One thing we also know is that had he put his hands behind his back and not resisted arrest, Eric Gardner would probably be alive right now, and you have to admit that in fairness to the police, who were there to enforce a law, even if it was admittedly a stupid one. Unlike our president, cops normally don't have a choice about which laws they enforce.A crime's reported, they go to the scene, make their determination and proceed accordingly.

This seems to me to be a culmination of tragic decisions. The cops could have decided to let this particular arrest, which did not involve a violent crime slide and gone on to more important work. Eric Gardner, who was no stranger to being arrested could have decided to go along with the procedure one more time. And Officer Pantaleo could have thought about using something else besides that particular take down,perhaps.

In any event, this isn't over yet. Eric Holder has promised a civil rights investigation ( a tough one to pull off given you have to show intent based on someone's race, but they'll try) and Gardner's family will almost certainly file a civil suit which the DiBlasio administration will almost certainly settle for large money without much of a fight,being whom they are....

As I said, a real tragedy.

1 comment:

B.Poster said...

You're spot on about this being a real tragedy. Eric Gardner's case is so different from Michael Brown's case that it is a comparison of "apples to oranges" so to speak.

"...a culmination of tragic decisions." Again, very true. Given the situation, it seems the grand jury made the only decision they could make. To many people In America simply do not understand how our legal system works. As you know, in order to get a conviction it needs to be proven "beyond a reasonable doubt" that a crime was committed. It is not based upon a "preponderance of the evidence." The prosecutor and the grand jury recognizing they did not have such evidence as to prove beyond a reasonable doubt realized a criminal conviction would not be possible so they mad the only choice they could.

As for a civil suit, Mr. Gardner's family may have recourse in this area as the burden of proof is less. I agree with your assessment that the city will likely settle this with Mr. Gardner's family for a large sum of money without much of a fight. Actually, I think the government where I live in one of the "reddest of the red" areas in the US would likely make a big settlement if faced with a similar type of situation.

As for the cell phone video, I saw it on Fox News. It looks quite bad, however, what is left out is what occurred before the "takedown" occurred. The grand jury would have at least had testimony on this. Again, at this time it appears that, while tragic, they and the prosecutor made the only decision they could.