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Caribbean American Congresswoman, Yvette D. Clarke
Caribbean American Congresswoman, Yvette D. Clarke

News Americas, BROOKLYN, N.Y., Tues. July 22, 2014: Caribbean American New York Congresswoman, Yvette D. Clarke, has come out in  full support of a full investigation of the death of Eric Garner, a resident of Staten Island who died last week when he was placed in a choke hold during an arrest.

Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, died when cops attempted to arrest him at Victory Boulevard and Bay Street in Staten Island on July 17th for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes.

Police attributed his death to cardiac arrest. Video shot by bystanders showed an officer bringing him to the ground in an apparent chokehold, with Garner gasping “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!”

“On behalf of the people of the Ninth District of New York and myself, I wish to express my most sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Eric Garner,” said Congresswoman Clarke.

Clarke expressed concern that the practice and use of the ‘choke hold,’ essentially choking people as a means of executing an arrest has continued to occur, despite regulations that prohibit its use by the New York City Police Department.

The chokehold, a hold derived from the martial arts and intended to prevent normal breathing, has been prohibited by New York Police Department regulations since 1993, though the Civilian Complaint Review Board has received several hundred complaints about chokeholds in recent years. Eric Garner suffered from severe asthma.

“I urge Mayor Bill de Blasio and Commissioner William Bratton to pursue a full and thorough investigation into the death of Eric Garner while in the custody of the NYPD, both to secure justice for the family of Eric Garner and to prevent such incidents from ever occurring again in the future,” Clarke added.

Meanwhile, Daniel Pantaleo, the eight-year NYPD veteran, identified as the cop who dragged Garner to the ground, was stripped of his gun and shield and will work in a non-enforcement capacity until further notice. He had two civil rights lawsuits filed against him during his career, including one that ended up costing taxpayers $30,000.

Justin Damico, the four-year cop who was also at the scene has been placed on desk duty pending an investigation, but did not have his gun and badge taken away.

And the Fire Department has barred two paramedics and two emergency medical technicians who responded to an unconscious Garner. The four emergency service workers, all of whom are Richmond University Medical Center employees, have been placed on modified duty and will not be going on ambulance calls pending an investigation and review of their response, a source said. Their identities have not yet been released.

Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network is funding a funeral for Garner which is set for Wednesday, Jluy 23 from 6:45 p.m. at Bethel Baptist Church in Brooklyn.

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