A Staten Island man died Thursday after police placed him in a chokehold as they attempted to arrest him for selling untaxed cigarettes.
According to authorities, Eric Garner, 43, went into cardiac arrest and died at Richmond University Medical Center following the arrest that was filmed by several witnesses.
In the video, Eric can be seen telling police that he had not been selling cigarettes, repeatedly saying, ” I didn’t sell anything,” before insisting, “I’m minding my own business, please leave me alone.”
After a standoff, five officers tackled the 400-pound asthmatic Eric — with one placing him in a chokehold – and wrestled him to the ground as they attempted to put handcuffs on him.
As Eric lay on the ground, with one officer pushing his head into the pavement, he can be heard saying, “I can’t breath. I can’t breath,” over and over.
As the video ends, Eric appears to be unconscious as police clear onlookers while waiting awaiting paramedics.
According to his family, Eric, a married father with six children and two grandchildren, suffered from asthma.
“When I kissed my husband this morning, I never thought it would be for the last time,” Eric’s wife, Esaw, told reporters.
Police stated that Eric has been arrested multiple times for selling untaxed cigarettes, and records show he was due in court in October on three charges, including pot possession and selling untaxed cigarettes.
Witnesses at the scene claim Eric was breaking up a fight when police arrived, with Eric’s family stating that he didn’t have any cigarettes on him or in his car at the time of his death.
“They’re covering their asses; he was breaking up a fight. They harassed and harassed my husband until they killed him,” Eric’s wife said.
Within hours after Eric’s arrest and death, residents in the area hung handwritten posters on telephone poles near the scene with phrases like “no justice, no peace” and “Another innocent black man has been killed by police brutality. The NYPD must be stopped!”