Four emergency workers suspended in NYC chokehold death

The grass-roots community is keeping attention on last Thursday’s death of a New York City man after police held him in a chokehold, which is against police department policy.

One organization is circulating a petition demanding movement toward firing the police officers involved in the death of Eric Garner, 43, and the office of Al Sharpton announced that the civil rights activist would speak at the funeral, slated for Wednesday night in Brooklyn.

Meantime, four emergency response workers have been suspended without pay after witnesses reported they did not administer CPR or oxygen after responding to the scene where Garner by then lay motionless on the ground, according to various news organizations. The New York City Fire Department referred questions about the suspensions to Richmond University Medical Center, where the emergency workers are based and where Garner was pronounced dead of cardiac arrest. No one at the hospital could be reached late Monday by telephone or e-mail.

On Saturday, one eight-year police department veteran was stripped of his badge and gun for his involvement in the case.

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Press representatives for Mayor Bill de Blasio could not immediately be reached late Monday by telephone or e-mail. De Blasio postponed a departure for an Italy vacation from Friday to Saturday so he could initiate investigation into Garner’s death, which he called a “tragedy.”.

The police department referred comment on the suspensions to Richmond University Medical Center.

The death following an altercation between Garner and police caught on cellphone video is being investigated by the Staten Island, N.Y., District attorney and the New York Police Department’s internal affairs unit. Police said they suspected Garner, an asthmatic who weighed 350 to 400 pounds, of selling untaxed cigarettes, On the video, Garner is heard telling police he is doing nothing wrong. As at least four officers hold Garner down, one mashing his head into the sidewalk, Garner is heard on the video saying, “I can’t breathe,” at least eight times.

The organization ColorofChange.Org is circulating a petition asking Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton to ensure that a “thorough and fair investigation” is conducted and that all the police officers involved “be held accountable.” The organization also is asking those who sign the petition to demand that Bratton begin the process to fire all the officers involved.

ColorofChange.Org pointed fingers at the NYPD, not only for Garner’s death, but also for the city’s former “Stop and Frisk” policy that allowed law enforcement to stop people on the street whom officers deemed suspicious. Bratton and former mayor Michael Bloomberg said the practice was an effective crime deterrent. Detractors said the policy targeted young minority males.

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“This type of discriminatory policing can lead to baseless street stops, harassment, violence and cause serious injury or even death,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorofChange.Org.

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