New York police face likely FBI probe into Eric Garner's chokehold death

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 July, 2014, 10:57pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 July, 2014, 10:57pm


New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said the death of a 43-year-old Staten Island man who may have been placed in a chokehold by a police officer last week would probably spark a federal review and could lead to a probe into possible civil rights violations.

Speaking at a briefing on Tuesday, Bratton said the death of Eric Garner highlighted a need for improved training, and said he would send a contingent of officers to Los Angeles to develop new training regimens.

"The department really does need to do a lot more, a lot more in the area of training," he said. Bratton said this was especially necessary in terms of use-of-force techniques.

The commissioner also said he expected there would be "a retraining of every member" of the city's police department in the wake of the incident.

The FBI may also review Garner's death, according to Bratton, who said he would not be surprised if the local US attorney opened a probe to see whether Garner's civil rights were violated.

The clash between Garner and police unfolded in the Tompkinsville section of Staten Island on July 17. Garner's death sparked protests and angry rebukes from politicians.

According to several videos of the incident and to police officials, officers approached Garner about the sale of untaxed cigarettes. An argument broke out, and Garner was taken down to the ground in what appeared to be a chokehold.

The department really does need to do a lot more, a lot more in the area of training

The 43-year-old, a chronic asthmatic, died an hour later at a hospital.

The officer purportedly caught on video applying the chokehold, Daniel Pantaleo, has been placed on modified duty and stripped of his gun, according to the department.

Julie Bolcer, a spokeswoman for the New York medical examiner's office, said a routine autopsy was completed, but the "cause and manner" of Garner's death have yet to be determined.