Stewart noted the similarities between the incident and the death of African-American teenager Michael Brown at the hands of Ferguson, MO, police officer Darren Wilson–with one key difference.
“I think what is so uttering depressing is that none of the ambiguities that existed in the Ferguson case exist in the Staten Island [Garner] case,” he said.
“And, yet, the outcome is exactly the same,” he added.
Another key difference, of course, is video. Someone filmed the entire confrontation between Garner and NYPD officers Justin Damico and Daniel Pantaleo.
Damico approached Garner because he suspected he was selling “loosies,” single cigarettes taken from an untaxed, and therefore illegal, pack. Garner protested that he was being harassed.
At the point, Pantaleo could be seen clearly applying a choke hold on Garner as Pantaleo tried to put handcuffs on him.
Choke holds have long been banned by the New York City Police Department. But Pantaleo continued choking Garner after he was immobilized on the ground, despite Garner’s pleas that he could not breathe.
The heavily overweight Garner was taken to the hospital where he later died. The medical examiner’s office concluded that he died of “neck compression from the apparent choke hold, along with “the compression of his chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.”
“Damn, We are definitely not living in a post racial society,” said Stewart. “And I can imagine there are a lot of people out there wondering how much of a society we’re living in at all.”
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