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Lessons to be learned from an arrest that resulted in death

The recent incident of the death of a man, Eric Garner, brought on by his violent arrest by the NYPD, is very disturbing. The victim was Mr. Garner, once employed by the NY City’s Parks Department but did not remain employed due to health problems and took to illegally selling cigarettes on the black market to make some money. That was the backdrop to what happened in Staten Island when citizens made a call to the police regarding a fight between two individuals.

Garner had actually tried to break up the fight but it was he who came to the attention of the police when they arrived at the scene. Garner who was known by the police for his illegal activity of the cigarettes was then targeted for arrest even though that had nothing to do with the nature of the call to the police. Garner a large black man, 6’3” weighing about 350 pounds was not submissive for this arrest. He protested that he had not done anything and he should not be harassed by the police. Naturally he did not offer his wrists for the handcuffs and the police brought him down to the ground by what appeared to be a chokehold which is not legal here in NY. The autopsy results however did not show trauma to his windpipe which would have been evident if there had been a chokehold. Barring a whitewashing by the coronary office, this would indicate that pressure was not applied to Garner’s neck; rather the hold was around his breastbone and it was used merely as leverage to bring him down to the ground.

This would totally vindicate the arresting police crew except for one thing. Garner, while on the ground, face down was still pleading in a garbled but clearly audible way “I can’t breathe” about 4 or 5 times. The incident was recorded on a cell phone by someone at the scene.

Initially 2 plainclothes officers were involved in the arrest, later to be joined by 3 uniformed police. While Garner was murmuring that he couldn’t breathe no one halted or modified the progression of the arrest. No one administered CPR after Garner was cuffed and on the ground for 3 minutes and for 2 minutes thereafter when 4 medics already arrived to take him away. Garner died shortly thereafter from an apparent heart attack. The two cops are being investigated. One was reassigned and who incidentally has been sued 3 times already for police brutality in Federal court and another was relegated to desk duty. The 4 medics were placed on modified duty.

The NYPD motto is CPR - Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect. None of these traits were demonstrated by this horrible incident. Courtesy? Why weren’t the police involved in a civil discussion with him explaining why he was being arrested? Professionalism? Why couldn’t they wait until they had enough back-up to make a methodical arrest that didn’t have to rely on such violence from either a chokehold or smothering him face down on the ground? Why was it so important to press on with the arrest even after Garner clearly repeatedly moaned that he couldn’t breathe? Respect? Why wasn’t he sat up or spoken to after he was cuffed to see how responsive he is? Why was he left on the ground while the police and medics milled about wasting precious time before he was transported to the ambulance?

The police commissioner, Bill Bratton, who is a fair and able leader of the department, said that there has to be a total review of the procedures regarding how to procure an arrest from a non cooperative subject. To be clear, Garner never demonstrated any threatening behavior to the officers. When he was non cooperative he held his hands up (almost in a surrendering position) while admittedly not allowing himself to be cuffed. A police review? That’s reminiscent of the Benghazi review that Hillary Clinton learned so much from that she had no more patience to seriously answer Congressional questioning. All the police had to do in this case of Garner is for a few officers to grab each of his raised hands and pull them back in the cuffing position. They didn’t have to grab him near his neck or bring him face down to the ground.

Society spends so much time thinking and talking about race that people forget that it’s still just about acting humanely. Morals matter and anyone with a regard for human welfare would not have treated this non violent man (married with 6 children and 2 grandchildren) this way. The new ‘religion’ in society is whatever the Left thrusts on society such as gay, gender and racial politics but teaching character in public schools such as what private, parochial and charter schools already do would go a lot further than the gibberish nonsense that the Left shoves down our throat.

When Al Sharpton says that what’s needed for the police department is not retraining but justice. I agree with him but what he doesn’t say is that a different culture needs to be taught in society including the police department and that is one of true human dignity. That’s a message that should be taught in school, business and government. We are now looking at a governor’s election in November. The fact that Cuomo has not yet included an education tax credit for privates schools in the new budget, is something that should be considered. Yeshivas, Catholic schools and certain charter schools produce responsible and caring individuals. They know that it takes more than reading, writing and arithmetic. It also takes character education to foster a successful civilization. If the South Side of Chicago taught their youth character it wouldn’t look like a war zone and if public schools taught character it wouldn’t produce the spate of cops who brutalize citizens like Rodney King and Eric Garner.

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