Police techniques questioned in wake of N.Y. man's death

NEW YORK -- Family and friends of Eric Garner gathered at a Brooklyn church Wednesday evening for his funeral. The 43-year-old died last week after struggling with police officers.

An eyewitness recorded the arrest of Garner. Police say he was selling cigarettes illegally.

The officer in the green shirt appears to put Garner in a chokehold. Police say Garner, who had a history of health problems, died of a heart attack on his way to the hospital. A preliminary autopsy did not directly link the chokehold to his death. But the NYPD has prohibited the maneuver since 1994.

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Police officer in the green shirt appears to put Garner in a chokehold.

"The reason why chokeholds are dangerous is because it blocks off the breathing, which could eventually cause brain damage if the person is unconscious for a long period of time," says Joseph Giacalone. Giacalone is a former police sergeant and was on the NYPD force for 21 years. He told us department policy is clear, but things can get murky on the streets.

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Joseph Giacalone
CBS News

"When you are in the heat of the moment, the last thing that you're thinking of is well there is a patrol guide procedure that says I shouldn't be around this person's neck," says Giacalone.

"With a chokehold, it's very difficult for Wes to breathe. It actually encourages him to struggle," says Charles Huth.

Huth showed us another restraint technique he's teaching cops at the National Law Enforcement Training Center in Kansas City. The lateral vascular neck restraint does not block the airway. It's now used by 500 police departments.

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Chris Huth demonstrates lateral vascular neck restraint.
CBS News

"We're talking bi-lateral compression on the sides of the neck. You'll notice that Derek captures Wes' balance to the rear. He's got him off balance which makes it extremely difficult for Wes to resist," says Huth.

The NYPD has ordered re-training on proper restraint techniques for all 35,000 cops.

The police officer involved has been placed on desk duty pending a full investigation.

  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is an award-winning CBS News correspondent based in New York, reporting for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. Her work regularly appears on the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley", "CBS This Morning" and "CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood". She joined CBS News in 2004.

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