Family members of Eric Garner spoke publicly over the weekend saying they were determined to see justice served in the death of the 43-year-old Staten Island man who died after being held in a chokehold by a New York City police officer.
Esaw Garner, Eric's widow, described her late husband as “a quiet man.” She added, “He was a quiet man, but he’s making a lot of noise.”
She and other family members spoke in Harlem at the National Action Network, the civil rights organization led by the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Garner’s mother emphasized the importance of seeking justice through traditional law enforcement and court channels and not letting the death of her son lead to lawlessness in the streets.
“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy,” said Gwen Carr, Garner’s mother. "We’re going to do this right. We’re not going to go out there acting like animals because we’re not. I know my son was a good son.”
Sharpton has called for a federal investigation into the death of Garner, who was stopped by police officers who suspected he has been selling untaxed loose cigarettes. A bystander took a video of the confrontations, showing Officer Daniel Pantaleo using an apparent chokehold. The chokehold was banned by the police department several years ago.
Sharpton said the presence of the video made the police officers’ transgressions clear and irrefutable.
“There is no debate about a tape,” Sharpton said. “The policeman kept the illegal chokehold. Not one of the policemen opened their mouth to say the chokehold was illegal, and to let him go.”
He added, “We’re not anti-police. But we’re against wrong. And wrong is wrong whether you have on blue jeans or a blue uniform.”
Meanwhile, New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch warned against placing too much stock in the video.
"Videotapes never present all of the facts in a situation,” the head of the police officers’ union said, in a statement. “They never capture the criminal act or offense that brings police action to the scene. They present an isolated period of a police interaction but never the entire scenario. That's why it is necessary when video tapes surface to have a complete review of the facts in every case before arriving at any conclusion."
Follow Jonathan Hicks on Twitter: @HicksJonathan
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(Photo: AP Photo/John Minchillo)