Eric Garner was a 43-year-old father of six and grandfather of two. The tall, 400-pound man, who was known around his Staten Island neighborhood as a “gentle giant” nicknamed “Big E,” was approached Thursday outside a New York City store by a group of NYPD officers who accused him of selling contraband cigarettes. “I didn’t do shit!” Garner can be seen telling cops in a video of the incident. “I was just minding my own business.”
“Every time you see me, you want to mess with me,” he added. “I’m tired of it … Please just leave me alone!”
Cops say they saw Garner selling cigarettes outside the store. Other witnesses, however, said he’d just finished breaking up a fight. He had no cigarettes on him, nor in his car, his family told the Daily News.
But the officers didn’t leave Garner alone. Instead they tried to arrest him. Visibly upset at what was unfolding, Garner resisted. “Don’t touch me,” he said.
It’s then that an officer can be seen in the video putting Garner — who suffered from chronic asthma, sleep apnea and diabetes — into a tight, illegal chokehold. Garner falls to the ground, where, numerous times, he tells officers he can’t breathe.
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