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Statements on NYC medical examiner verdict in Garner chokehold case from de Blasio, Camara, Diaz, Sharpton.
NYSNYS News
Text of press releases.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 1, 2014
CONTACT: pressoffice@cityhall.nyc.gov, (212) 788-2958
No. 382

STATEMENT OF MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO ON THE MEDICAL EXAMINER’S REPORT ON THE DEATH OF ERIC GARNER

“On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest sympathies to the family of Eric Garner, on this day we have received the Medical Examiner’s findings concerning the cause of his death. My administration will continue to work with all involved authorities, including the Richmond County District Attorney, to ensure a fair and justified outcome.

“We all have a responsibility to work together to heal the wounds from decades of mistrust and create a culture where the police department and the communities they protect respect each other—and that’s a responsibility that Commissioner Bratton and I take very seriously. I’ve said that we would make change, and we will. As Mayor, I remain absolutely committed to ensuring that the proper reforms are enacted to ensure that this won’t happen again.

“I’d also like to thank the Office of Chief Medical Examiner for conducting a thorough and expeditious review of the cause of death in this tragic incident.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 1, 2014
Contact: Chris McCreight
mccreic@assembly.state.ny.us | 718-771-3105
Office of Assemblyman Karim Camara

Assemblyman Camara Statement Regarding the Medical Examiner Ruling Eric Garner’s Death a Homicide
Calls for NYPD to Look Inward to Fix “Broken Mirrors”

Brooklyn, NY - Today the medical examiner said that a choke hold killed Eric Garner and his death was ruled a homicide. Assemblyman and Chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus Karim Camara issued the following statement:

“Those who saw the video already knew that the police played a direct role in the death of Mr. Garner. It’s now more important than ever that justice is done and that this case in not simply swept under the rug under the cover of ‘retraining.’ For real justice to be served, police who break that law must be held accountable to the fullest degree. It’s imperative that District Attorney Dan Donovan take the medical examiner’s findings into account when determining potential charges.

As an elected official I have the opportunity to frequently interact with New York City police officers. I know and have witnessed the courage and dedication particularly of the officers of the 69th, 70th, 71st, 77th Precincts. However, the perspective that officers unnecessarily harass, hurt kill young people of color is common amongst residents of urban centers. It’s vital that the New York City Police Department look inward at this time and begin rebuilding trust between police and communities of color. The failure of the New City Police Department to look at how it is reflected in the community, from flawed strategies to frayed relationships, is an indicator that the problem is not just a challenge of fixing ‘broken windows’ in the community, but must begin with the NYPD fixing its ‘broken mirrors’.”
Assemblyman Camara represents the 43rd Assembly District, which includes parts of Crown Heights, Lefferts-Gardens, and East Flatbush in Brooklyn, New York. He chairs the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus.

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What You Should Know
By Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz
32nd Senatorial District
718-991-3161

The Presumption of Innocence Should Apply for All

You should know that in the American criminal justice system, there is something called the presumption of innocence. The presumption of innocence protects innocent people and allows anyone who is accused of a crime to maintain his or her innocence until a court of law finds them guilty. This is true for people who are accused of a crime, who are arrested for allegedly committing a crime, or who are indicted.

You should also know that one day after the New York City Medical Examiner’s office ruled that Eric Garner’s death was caused by the use of a chokehold, the Daily News’ top editorial was titled: Toward chokehold justice. The Daily News editors shared their analysis of this tragedy and the role of New York City Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who, as you may recall from the video, wrestled Garner to the sidewalk. The editors wrote:

“As likely as an indictment of Pantaleo seems, there must still be no rush to judgment and his presumption of innocence must be respected throughout all potential proceedings.”

You should know that I agree 100 percent with this statement. The presumption of innocence, where people are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty – is an essential part of the criminal process in the United States of America.

I am encouraged by the Daily News’ August 2nd editorial, which is in sharp contrast to the paper’s frequent headlines and articles that immediately condemn many people who have been accused or suspected of committing crimes. We all know how often the Daily News has served as judge and jury, writing off any number of New Yorkers, elected officials and celebrities who have been accused of or arrested for allegedly committing a crime, finding many people guilty in the court of public opinion well before any juries were ever convened, without respecting any proceedings at all.

It is good that the Daily News editors support New York City Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo’s presumption of innocence – and it would be nice if those same kind words and views about impartiality would be applied in the same fair manner in their newspaper for everyone else. We routinely see the Daily News uses labels such as crook, hoodlum, thug, creep, and madman to describe people who have allegedly committed any number of crimes – not nearly the way they wrote to temper emotions and demonstrate respect for criminal proceedings for Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo.

Ladies and gentlemen, if the Daily News want to promote respect for those who are being accused of crimes, I’m all for it – but they need to realize that the presumption of innocence should not apply to some, but to all.

This is Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz, and this is what you should know.

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POLICE BEHAVIOR, JAMES BROWN, AND THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES

By Rev. Al Sharpton

After kicking off “Freedom Summer 2014” and opening National Action Network’s Birmingham, Alabama office last week, I headed home to deal with yet another police case in New York City. Eric Garner, the Staten Island father of six, died after continuously saying ‘I can’t breathe’ as police officers placed him in a chokehold and forced him to the ground according to video footage which captured the horrific incident. On Friday, a medical examiner ruled that Garner’s death was in fact a homicide, and that he was killed by neck compressions from a chokehold. While videotape footage was instrumental in this case, we must now ensure that justice prevails. Garner’s family came to me for assistance, and I will do everything in my power to see to it that those responsible for his death are held accountable. The late great James Brown, a man who was like a father to me, once told me about an instance where police officers almost killed him as they shot his vehicle over 20 times. He never pointed a gun at them or fired towards them. That was when I was just 18 years old; all these years later, we are still dealing with over-zealous cops and excessive force. Across this nation, we need police reform and we need federal intervention because clearly things are out of control at the local level. Enough is enough.

For the last 25 years+, I’ve been involved with case after case of police misconduct, abuse and brutality after grieving families have approached me and National Action Network. Whether it was Sean Bell, Ramarley Graham or now Eric Garner, our mission is to not only raise the level of awareness, but to fight for true change. The use of chokeholds by the NYPD was banned in 1993, and yet, here we are. In order to see fairness and justice in this case, we must demand a federal investigation immediately, and those charged with Garner’s death must be prosecuted in federal court. Local judges and authorities deal with prosecutors they are dependent on. And local judges and authorities can waive a jury trial which leaves a lot of political pressure on a judge. In federal court, a person or persons will be judged by a jury of their peers, not by a judge who may be beholden to certain politics or political forces. We will continue to hold rallies, marches and keep the pressure on because no man or woman should die at the hands of those sworn to serve and protect them.

Around the country, movie theaters are currently playing “Get On Up”, the James Brown story. I was fortunate enough to know Brown and eventually develop an extremely close relationship with him that can only be summarized this way: he became the father I was missing, and I became the son he was missing. When I was just 18 years old, his son Teddy was killed in a tragic car accident. Teddy was the same age as me, and he was a member of my civil rights movement in New York. When he died, Brown and I became close; I learned many life lessons from him. And I’ll never forget the time I flew to Augusta, GA after he was arrested following a police chase. I visited him in jail and I remember him repeatedly saying that the cops tried to kill him, that they shot his vehicle over 20 times. If they shot the gas tank, the car would have blown up he continued saying. I never fired at them, or even pointed a gun in their direction, and they still shot at me over and over again he told me.

Whether it’s James Brown or Eric Garner, police shouldn’t be trained or allowed to go above the law in the name of enforcing the law. If cops claim Garner was resisting arrest (though the tape leads one to believe that that’s questionable), we must deal with how law enforcement handles that. Under no circumstances can police break the law with an illegal chokehold. And when a man is saying ‘I can’t breathe’ 11 times – that’s 11 times – how can you not release him so that he can breathe? What happened to people’s humanity?

I don’t believe all cops are bad; the majority are not. But the bad ones must be dealt with so the good ones are not smeared by their actions, and so the public doesn’t lose faith in those hired to protect them. From Marlene Pinnock (who was reportedly punched in the face by a California Highway Patrol officer), to Eric Garner, to my memories of the Godfather of soul, all I want is police reform because crime in our communities must be tackled. I want to work with Mayors across the country to resolve problems because gun violence and crime is disproportionately impacting our neighborhoods. We must work together.

But crime cannot be dealt with if we have to fear both the cops and the robbers.

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