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The police officers involved displayed a coldhearted disregard for life. Did police and paramedics disrespect Garner because they considered him a lowly black suspect? Or were they just overzealous and incompetent? Either way, Garner’s untimely and suspicious death is a tragedy that should be thoroughly investigated.

For now, the police officer who put Garner in a choke hold, Daniel Pantaleo, was stripped of his gun and badge and placed on modified duty, and the four emergency workers who responded to the scene in Staten Island were also put on modified duty pending an investigation.

But Garner’s son, Eric Snipes, 18, said he wants to see Pantaleo behind bars. Meanwhile, police said Garner has been arrested 31 times since 1988 on charges such as drug possession, selling untaxed cigarettes and assault. He was last arrested in May for selling untaxed cigarettes, court records show. Since 2009, he was arrested nine different times for selling illegal cigarettes.

Police claim Garner became irate during questioning and needed to be subdued. But Garner did not have a weapon, and, after I reviewed the video, I didn’t see any indication that Garner posed a serious threat to police. Pantaleo has a history, too. The eight-year veteran has been the subject of two lawsuits that alleged violations of police procedures and false arrest.

In one case, two Black plaintiffs won a settlement of $15,000 apiece after winning their case that they were falsely arrested and strip-searched. Their charges were dismissed. Sharpton is making sure there will be a thorough investigation. Garner’s death is a tragedy and the fact that another black man has died during an altercation with police in New York is a travesty.

His family needs answers and deserves justice.

What do you think?

(Photo: AP)

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COMMENTARY: Was Eric Garner’s Death An Accident…Or a Murder?  was originally published on

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