When Cops Do Bad Things: The Eric Garner Incident

by Bill Brenner on July 23, 2014

This video of a man being choked to death by police is getting a lot of attention lately:

Even The New York Times covered the incident. This sort of thing is normally New York Post territory. Of course, the video does come from the Post.

You can hear people in the background talking about police bullying an innocent man whose only crime was trying to break up a fight. Police claim he was initially approached for “illegally” selling cigarettes, and that he resisted arrest. The video clearly shows the man, 43-year-old Eric Garner, dropping to the ground while complaining he can’t breath.

The video is being shared and re-shared all across Facebook. It’s appeared in my news feed four times in the last week, usually with comments welcoming viewers to the new police state — a place where no one is truly free and the cops get to kill whoever they want.

Is that an accurate picture?

It’s easy to see how people feel that way when we see daily instances of government abusing its power and invading our liberties.

But I don’t think it’s entirely accurate.

I know a lot of people who work in law enforcement; they love liberty. Their first concern is public safety and they serve the public faithfully. I think the majority of police officers fit that description, albeit with variations in political belief.

When people see police brutality and cry about this becoming a brutal police state, they fail to see incidents like these for what they are: the actions of individuals rather than accepted police or government procedure. The police in this case acted like idiots, especially the cop who put Garner in a chokehold. As the NYT article noted, the chokehold was banned by the New York Police Department more than 20 years ago.

I feel for Eric Garner’s family and don’t blame his friends and neighbors for being outraged. These officers ought to be fired. Or, at the least, they need to be suspended and retrained as a condition for returning to the force.

But cops doing bad things and a police state taking hold are not the same thing. Trust me: If a police state begins to emerge, you’ll know it.


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

mochamadness July 24, 2014 at 1:15 pm

This guy was selling untaxed cigarettes, shouting and yelling at the police. No one’s allowed to do those things. Except those who have an “I can do and say what I want” attitude/mentality like Eric Garner. He has an extensive criminal record, which includes drug posession and disorderly conduct. That figures. He should’ve been selling his .50 cigarettes at home or in somebody else’s house who allows that type of action. Stupid of him to have thought his big, fat butt wouldn’t draw the attention of the police. Maybe he assumed he was invisible and the cops couldn’t see him.

mochamadness July 24, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Of course, he was breaking up a fight. That’s why the police focused on him other than the fighters. That makes no sense whatsoever. Unless the two fighters were non-blacks. Eric Garner was selling untaxed cigarettes, yelling and shouting at the police BEFORE they put one finger on him. They told him to place his hands behind his back in which he did, but he wouldn’t shut the f**k up. Then of all things, Eric begins to resist arrest. Dumb a**.

Michel Lauzon July 24, 2014 at 4:31 pm

mochamadness you are nothing less than a f… idiot.

The guy was not shouting or yelling. It is even not clear if he was actually selling cigarettes. And hey we are talking about cigarettes gee. So you are an idiot, and i wish i can tell this right in front of you.

atheistcable July 25, 2014 at 3:06 am

mochamadness wrote: “He has an extensive criminal record, which includes drug posession …”

Eric Garner was not a criminal. The Drug War itself is a crime against humanity. End the Drug War, and we end this fake “criminality” connected to possession of pot–or any other Schedule 1 drug.

Someone also wrote that Mr Garner gave out hugs. Eric Garner was a beautiful man–the cops destroyed this. I grieve along with Mr Garner’s family over this tragic loss.

Bill Brenner wrote: “These officers ought to be fired.” I agree!

Jone July 25, 2014 at 8:17 pm

Do the police have too much power? Can or will this become a police state? I believe these questions will also be addressed by Stossel on Fox News in a special tomorrow night, July 26, 2014 at 10 pm on “Policing America”.

mochamadness July 26, 2014 at 11:35 pm

In case you didn’t know, criminals give hugs all day long. Doesn’t mean they are nice people.

robert August 17, 2014 at 1:35 am

i think its very sad that it ended in his death but he did resist the police and he was twice the size of the cop so i can understand the officers auctions but it shouldent have ended in hes death even if he was selling cigarettes or not so what im saying is simple it could have been avoided had he just let them arrest him if he was Innocent he would have gone home.as i said very sad he died it should have never happened and the cop should not have had him in a choke hold when he was saying he couldn’t breath.

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