August 2, 2014

A Chokehold Killed Eric Garner

News outlets tonight are announcing that New York's Medical Examiner has determined that Eric Garner died from neck and check compression, although his obesity, asthma, and high blood pressure were contributing factors. (Here, for example). In other words, Garner was killed by police officers. So where do we go from here?

The fundamental question is if criminal charges will be brought, and if so, by whom and for what. Daniel Donovan, the Staten Island District Attorney, is responsible for answering these questions. Odds are, he would greatly prefer to pass the buck. S.I. is a conservative borough, and any decision to criminally prosecute white police officers will be unpopular with his electorate. Yes, of course it shouldn't matter, but of course, it does. A lot. Police officers are very, very rarely prosecuted for brutality or excessive force. It would not be surprising if this case were ultimately handed off to federal prosecutors, absolving Donovan of any responsibility for having to defend a decision.

Whether NYPD Daniel Pantaleo will be charged with killing Garner (i.e., with criminally negligent homicide or manslaughter) remains to be seen. Folks who want to see him charged with murder shouldn't hold their breath, it's not going to happen. However, now that the M.E. has found Pantaleo caused Garner's death, charges of some sort appear inevitable. 

The more interesting question is whether the other officers who jumped in and helped Pantaleo will be charged with anything at all. Several affirmatively assisted, none tried to stop him. 

Equally interesting will be whether anyone other than Pantaleo faces any serious NYPD discipline. Pantaleo's choke hold was in express violation of NYPD policy. While it appears to be used fairly frequently, it would be politically impossible for Commissioner Bratton to let this episode slide. Instead, he will indignantly hang Pantaleo out to dry, as though this were some isolated incident that could never happen again now that the one wrong doer has been fired. How he proceeds against the other officers will be interesting. The unions will staunchly defend their members, and there is already significant tension between the rank and file and management concerning things like the administration's about-face on Stop and Frisk. Bratton will face substantial pressure from a number of different quarters. It's not clear which way he will go.


  1. You know, there is a choke hold ban for a reason. This is not really complicated. The rational of not choking someone, even if they resist is to prevent incidents like the one to Eric Garner. This was a petty offense at best. if the female officers were inffective or the cops were too small, you call for back-up. There are also Tasers that You Tobe has hundreds of videos were cops love to use them on women, kids, and elderly men. So, that was not used here. To some extent, some fault need to be borne of the victim but a police is a police. If the same rational was to obey the law, as number 99 intended, he too must obey the rules - having someone die as you laugh to the camera man who was oddly later arrested is, well, kind of low.

    In addition, we all know Bernie still feels he is America's cop. Bernie, if I were you, I would have your wife get a staple gun and wire that mouth of your quiet. You have a pending Motion for Contempt and to Dismiss - what in the world are you doing going on TV to inject yourself into a very racial issue and attacking anyone, especially the Mayor who has a black wife or Sharpton the activist? These are LOSER issues for you. The man died - Geez. The Police Dept. does not need you speaking for them. Let Bratton speak. You are no longer involved. Why is your lawyer not telling you to shut up. If you piss one person off who may be deciding your very shaky fate and his fate, you will have made a fatal error. Stop pretending you are Mr. Clean. You aren't clean and that big mouth lawyer you are suing is your main target - not Mayor DeBlasio of all people - Geez ! - these are my opinions, you can do what you want but be careful, history has a way of repeating itself ..Take a tip from Poppy!.

    1. Choke holds were indeed banned for a reason, as are headshots with batons, etc. Garner's death was entirely unnecessary, stupid, and disgraceful.

      As for Bernie Kerik, well, it's tough for somebody who loves the camera to admit he's become irrelevant.

    2. I think he may need a Lawrence O'Donnell moment when O'Donnell asks Rep. Anthony Weiner on MSNBC, "What's wrong with you, Anthony...............?" Submission hold.....geez !

      Hopefully someone that actually cares for Bernie and the public will read your column and advise him counsel - Bernie, the police gig - that ship has sailed! At least the dem's taught Weiner a lesson, let's hope his resturaunt is a success!

  2. I have to agree with the comments - there is no excuse for "choking" and no one would do that to an animal - they would get locked up - if the police decide to arrest, that is one thing, stepping on the guy's head when he says he can't breath is something else and is disgusting - Sharpton or not - if Bill Bratton is too fragile to handle or meet side by side with community leaders, who cares? No one would lose a beat if Mr. Bratton resigns tomorrow - trust me - Good for Mayor DeBlasio to defuse a real ugly situation and show some caring!

  3. Just when you thought one of the 2 blabber mouths, Bernie Kerik and Joe Tacopina, would just sit down and shut their mouths, another big mouth know-it-all, known as the "A-Rod lawyer" had to "weigh in" on the Tony Steward race car driver accident-death. Someone Mr. Tacopina has already done the "investigation" that another seemingly disgusting act was shaken off by watching in on TV - what a moron. Obviously, the driver who was killed was upset at something, who knows the facts until they are investigated - doesn't look so clean to me. But, these are the low life's the A-Rod lawyer is so drawn to -flawed people that he can feed off of to get a few lousy TV appearances. This lawyer is one of the cheesy lawyers, he dreams of TV shows and seemingly will do and say anything, even lie, for his own ends - he has issues.

    So you see, it's not just Bernie. Both convict and snitch are 2 peas in a pod. Good for the FBI to torment their lives, these 2 flawed Page 9 heroes are nothing by tabloid heroes - celluloid heroes. For the most part, both these men have seen their best days. The downfall will be hard for them. That downfall is underway.

    Mr. Tacopina should stop darkening his hair and doing whatever drugs he is accused of. Tacopina's face is starting to look like an old piece of rubber. Tacopina, here is my advise to you. Walk away from the law into a new profession that helps the poor and hungry. Do something for your community and give those you intentionally hurt an apology, try to end wounds.

    Bernie, that bald scalp looks like the commercial cleanser, Mr. Clean. If he wants to be really clean, he needs to get a better group of friends and to learn how to spell the word "bizarre." Bernie spells it "Bazaar." This was in his handwritten notes to this prison gal be befriended and who now wants to destroy him - again - picking bad people around him. Bernie, here is my advise, stop acting like an expert. Go open up a nightclub or restaurant in Paterson or near Gerlado's place on the jersey shore.

    Lets hope the court allows them to fight it out. This fight needs to happen to rectify a score. May the fights act honorable and shut there mouths and spare us there useless views .

  4. I like Bernie but I have to admit his new look does resemble Mr. Clean the floor cleaner - maybe that was part of the public image change? I kind of miss the old bloated Kerik w/the stache - I can say one thing, if Kerik did open up a nightclub in Jersey he appears to have three big bruts of security guards who could double as bouncers in his court pics - One guys looks like a Giant, one guy looks like a well-dressed Pee Wee Herman, and the fat guy looks like he just finished off 10 hot dogs and 20 tacos and find his belt under his suit jacket -

  5. Oddly, Kerik continues to get involved in police ethics. I have read that some view Kerik, which is not me, as white-skinhead official. An anti-Al Sharpton. I think Bernie means well. He openly says this is the only gig he knows. Personally, I don't view Bernie as a prison chief from the movie Midnight Express. I think in this case, Bernie mostly has lost the ability to grow any hair naturally and has adapted this sheek look naturally. However, neither his scalped head or his criminal record has stopped him from making the airwaves. Go Bernie go...! His latest gig is acting as an ethicist on the latest controversial police matters requiring ethics and integrity. This is coming from a convicted felon. I mean, it is crazytown. I can see Bernie speaking of training, ballstics or investigations but his opinion on ethical police issues and brutality is just plain bizarre. Bernie feels the police should be militarized with "tanks" and whatever else they need to beat down the system. (Notably, the government has allowed terrorist and undocumented illegals to enter the US without any trace. The US Police forces would NOT NEED to militarize the police dept's if they just enforced the borders. But, as we learned, Mr. Kerik is the police commission who was on-duty during the worst attack ever happened in this country - he likes to take credit for the aftermath yet no one talks why it suceeded in trhe first place or why Building 7 collapsed - that was missing from the 911 Commssioner report Kerik was involved with) So, why is anyone listeining to his "advice" now. The advise should be, put those "tanks" on the border NOT on main-street USA !.

    Bernie's "expert" is dead wrong. For some reason, he is not getting that this is causing increased trigger happy cops and choke holds. This is occuring, much to his avoidance of the issue all across the country. Sure Bernie, lets arm the cops with cruise missles next. Whether or not Bernie may have valid points, he has taken the side of highly questionable police "tactics" of force over civil rights and protests by blacks and whites. No one wants violence or rioting, however, this could have been avoided. So, much for his speaches for all those poor Blacks doing time for drug offeenses he was so concerned about. It appears Bernie is starting to feel his oats and is getting attention for issues no one else really wants to take. The Press, being the instigators they are, seemingly view Bernie is a controllable monkey who they can hold out a bananna to. Instead of interviewing former commissioner Ray Kelly or Bill Bratton, two non-convicted police cheifs, Bernie can't wait to be the guy who actually sides against the majority of the people. There is a reason the public does not like the invasion or privacy and touff guy tactics. One would have thought when Bernie cried when pressure and forced were used against him, he would get it. For Bernie, he continues to talk, talk, talk. I guess Bernie feels the more he talks the better his chances are for something - I am not sure what. Bernie, if you really want to be a referormer for the people, please, think before you talk. Those are my opinions as a public nobody.

    1. I'm not a fan of deleting comments, but you're tempting me. The blog post is about Eric Garner's death by choke hold. It's got nothing to do with Bernie Kerik. Nothing.