Target: William Bratton, Commissioner of the New York Police Department (NYPD)
Goal: Hold policeman accountable for using illegal chokehold that killed nonviolent offender
Eric Garner was selling loose cigarettes in New York, which is an illegal but relatively harmless crime. It is by no means violent or dangerous. The last time Mr. Garner sold cigarettes, the police approached him to tell him to stop, and likely to give him a ticket. Although he at first resisted the police approaching him, he quickly raised his hands in the air, a universal sign of surrender. However, a mere few seconds later, one of the policemen put him in a chokehold and pushed him onto the sidewalk.
Both onlookers and video evidence prove that Mr. Garner was screaming that he could not breathe, as the police officer held him down in the chokehold. He died shortly thereafter from compression on the neck, compression on the chest and being held down in a prone position.
In this case, the punishment does not match the crime. While Mr. Garner had a criminal record, and did resist police, he was not violent or dangerous to society. He was trying to make extra money by selling loose cigarettes. The New York Police Department is officially against the use of the chokehold. It is not illegal, but it is an excessive use of force, and police officers are not supposed to use it.
While the police department stated that they would fully investigate the situation, they also stated that if Mr. Garner had not resisted police, he would still be alive. They also cited his heart problems as a cause of death. These statements are irrelevant — at the end of the day, the cause of death was that he was choked by a police officer. From a completely humanist perspective, we now call on the NYPD Commissioner William Bratton to bring this case to justice. The police officers involved need to be punished for breaching their line of duty.
Dear Commissioner Bratton,
Police exist to ensure public safety. When they do almost the exact opposite, and put a man in a chokehold unnecessarily, people begin to distrust policing as an institution. The death of Eric Garner is despicable, no matter what defense is publicly used.
The policeman who put him in the chokehold must be brought to justice. It is horrendous that this even happened. Therefore, the man who did it must be charged with homicide. Medically, it was counted as such, and most of the public agrees. It is the right move to make. There must be a criminal trial on the guilty officer, so that justice can be served.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Krokodyl via Wikimedia Commons