In Eric Garner Case, Blame Only The Career Petty Criminal Who Tragically Decided To Resist



Eric Garner and Michael Brown had much in common, not the least of which was this: On the last day of their lives, they made bad decisions. Epically bad decisions.

Each broke the law – petty offenses, to be sure, but sufficient to attract the attention of the police.

And then – tragically, stupidly, fatally, inexplicably – each fought the law.

The law won, of course, as it almost always does.

This was underscored yet again when a Staten Island grand jury chose not to indict any of the arresting officers in the death in police custody of Garner last July.

Just as a grand jury declined to indict the police officer who shot a violently resisting Michael Brown to death in Ferguson, Mo., in August.

Demagoguery rises to an art form in such cases – because, again, the police generally win. (Though not always, as a moment’s reflection before the Police Memorial in lower Manhattan will underscore.) And because those who advocate for cop-fighters are so often such accomplished beguilers.

They cast these tragedies as, if not outright murder, then invincible evidence of an enduringly racist society.

No such thing, as a matter of fact. Virtually always, these cases represent sad, low-impact collisions of cops and criminals – routine in every respect except for an outlier conclusion.

The Garner case is textbook.

Eric Garner was a career petty criminal who’d experienced dozens of arrests, but had learned nothing from them. He was on the street July 17, selling untaxed cigarettes one at a time – which, as inconsequential as it seems, happens to be a crime.

Yet another arrest was under way when, suddenly, Garner balked. “This ends here,” he shouted – as it turned out, tragically prophetic words – as he began struggling with the arresting officer.

Again, this was a bad decision. Garner suffered from a range of medical ailments – advanced diabetes, plus heart disease and asthma so severe that either malady might have killed him, it was said at the time.

Still, he fought – and at one point during the struggle, a cop wrapped his arm around Garner’s neck.

That image was captured on bystander video and later presented as irrefutable evidence of an “illegal” chokehold and, therefore, grounds for a criminal indictment against the cop.

That charge fails, and here’s why.

First, while “chokeholds” are banned by NYPD regulation, they’re not illegal under state law when used by a cop during a lawful arrest. So much for criminal charges, given that nobody seriously disputes the legitimacy of the arrest.

Second, and this speaks to the ubiquitous allegation that cops are treated “differently” than ordinary citizens in deadly-force cases: Indeed they are – and it is the law itself that confers the privilege.

The law gives cops the benefit of every reasonable doubt in the good-faith performance of their duties – and who would really have it any other way?

Cops who need to worry about whether the slightest mishap – a minor misunderstanding that escalates to violence of any sort – might result in criminal charges and a prison term are not cops who are going to put the public’s interests first.

Finally, there is this: There were 228,000 misdemeanor arrests in New York City in 2013, the last year for which there are audited figures, and every one of them had at least the potential to turn into an Eric Garner-like case.

None did.

So much for the “out of control” cop trope. So much for the notion that everyday citizens – or even criminals with the presence of mind to keep their hands to themselves – have something to fear from the NYPD.

Keep this in mind as the rhetoric fogs the facts in the hours and days ahead.

For there are many New Yorkers – politicians, activists, trial lawyers, all the usual suspects – who will now seek to profit from a tragedy that wouldn’t have happened had Eric Garner made a different decision.

He was a victim of himself. It’s just that simple.


{ Newscenter}


  1. Sorry, but while Garner did deserve to be put in prison for his crimes, and he did resist arrest, he was unarmed and did not represent a serious danger to the officers, who are supposed to know how to arrest someone without killing them. The officer who choked him did something he wasn’t supposed to do and while that may not be criminal, it was still wrong. We would be up in arms had Garner been Jewish.

  2. This is ridiculous. This man did not break to run and did not have any common hate derived in an action of violence against the police. There were 6 police who could have taken the time to secure the threats against this man and make him more coercive to being taken into custody.

    That still, this is very scary. He may have indeed had a mental illness and that is a very serious and touchy situation.

    If you want your children to be scared around police and you want any heavens-forbid child who might have a mental illness to be destroyed by an aggressive unmitigating police force, agree with the above article.

    Until then, I remain myself afraid of the reality of some of the more aggressive stances of police forces in this country and I think we need to definately discuss this topic and hope for better police education and training.

    Your life yourself or your child’s might be at stake.

    Do not become complacent and blame the victim.

    We are jews. Not Crazy Heathens.


    Never Again.

  3. The real tragedy is the all powerful tax-greedy state that will not hesitate to use any force in order to stop a street guy selling a few single cigarettes. While Eric Garner was passively resisting arrest, he definitely wasn’t any danger to any police officer or any bystander, hence the use of deadly or dangerous force by the police was another bullying incident by the arrogant state against an individual. Those that make it a black and white matter, are doing a major favor to the fascist-socialist state by taking away the spot-light from the real issue and by creating a divide-and-conquer situation.

  4. I do not know what is happening to many Jews…every day they sound more like white supremacists…..who is their influential teacher David Duke? resisting arrest is not a capital punishment!

  5. I am not liberal, but I can figure out the difference between a violent criminal who just robbed a store and who attacks a police officer — and a petty offender who is obese and hardly a threat to professional police forces. I do not think the officer should have been charged, and I do not think the cause of death was choking, but rather the multiple health issues of the individual; yet I don’t believe the officer deserves a medal either.

  6. the real criminals are Bloomberg and DiBlazio with their over reaching over taxation and over regulation, where selling a single taxable cigarette without paying the mighty tax is worse than selling hard drugs which aren’t able to be taxed anyway

  7. HE Was obese and in bad physical shape but he was very large and heavy. would everyone be happy if he was arrested and had a heart attack in lockup where he belonged?