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NYPD to review officer training after fatal arrest

Undated photo of Eric Garner AP Photo/Family photo via National Action Network

NEW YORK - New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Tuesday that a "top-to-bottom review" of training procedures for NYPD officers, focusing specifically on the use of force, will be launched in the wake of the death of Eric Garner, who died after being put in an apparent chokehold by an officer during an arrest on Staten Island last week.

Chokeholds are banned under department policy.

Bratton said he has placed Deputy Commissioner of Training Benjamin Tucker in charge of the training review, which he says will involve consultation with multiple other police departments across the county, including the Los Angeles Police Department, which Bratton formerly ran, reports CBS New York.

"The department really does need to do a lot more, a lot more, in the area of training," Bratton said of the NYPD on Tuesday.

The NYPD's Civilian Complaints Review Board has received more than 1,000 allegations of chokeholds over the last five years, 462 of which were fully investigated. Of those, the board found evidence that chokeholds were used in nine instances, reports CBS New York.

A criminal investigation into Garner's death has already been launched by the Staten Island District Attorney's Office, along with an internal police investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau, reports the station.

Bratton said the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office will also likely launch federal investigations into the matter.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said a full investigation into the incident is needed.

"As an individual who is not an expert in law enforcement, it looked like a chokehold to me," de Blasio said, reports CBS New York. "But, I also emphasize that you have a full investigation because all sides need to be heard and all evidence has to be looked at."

Video of Garner's July 17 arrest shot by a bystander shows one officer wrap his arm around Garner's neck as he is taken to the ground - arrested for allegedly selling untaxed, loose cigarettes - while Garner shouts, "I can't breathe!"

Following the incident, two NYPD officers - including Officer Daniel Pantaleo, the one who allegedly put his arm around Garner's neck - were placed on desk duty and four emergency workers involved in the medical response for Garner were suspended without pay pending an investigation.

The Fire Department of New York disclosed the medics' reassignment on Monday after a second video surfaced showing at least a half-dozen police officers and emergency workers circling a man who appears to be Garner lying on the sidewalk, handcuffed and unresponsive.

Authorities have said Garner, a father of six, likely had a heart attack. More tests are needed to determine the exact cause and manner of his death.

Office Pantaleo, who used the apparent chokehold on Garner, has been sued by three men in federal court over allegedly unlawful, racially motive arrests within the past two years, court records show. Following Garner's death, the NYPD said it stripped Pantaleo, an eight-year veteran of the force, of his gun and badge.

Video of Garner's struggle with police obtained by the New York Daily News shows the 6-foot-3, 350-pound man becoming irate and refusing to be handcuffed.

Garner, who has been arrested for illegally selling cigarettes numerous times in recent years, told the officers who confronted him that he had not done anything wrong, according to the video of the arrest.

"Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I'm tired of it. It stops today," Garner shouts. "I'm minding my business. Please just leave me alone."

Then, as four officers bring him down to the sidewalk, Garner, who was asthmatic, gasps, "I can't breathe! I can't breathe!" The video shows one officer using his hands to push Garner's face into the sidewalk.

Ramsey Orta, who shot the video of Garner's encounter with police, said Garner had broken up a fight shortly before police arrived and denies the accusations that he was selling untaxed cigarettes.

"They were just going after him because of his past," Orta said, according to CBS New York. "They didn't witness him sell no cigarettes."

Garner's funeral is scheduled for Wednesday at the Bethel Baptist Church in Brooklyn.

  • Crimesider Staff

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