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In July, it will be five years since Eric Garner was killed. Now the NYPD has a new defense for the New York Police Department officer who was caught on video using an illegal chokehold to kill Garner for a nonviolent offense: that he didn’t put Garner in a chokehold.

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According to the New York Daily NewsDaniel Pantaleo‘s defense attorney Stu London said NYPD Chief Surgeon Eli Kleinman determined Garner was never in a chokehold.

“Kleinman concluded there were no injuries associated with a chokehold, including to Garner’s trachea, and that Garner’s poor health — he was obese and suffered from asthma, hypertension and diabetes — contributed to his death, London said,” the Daily News wrote.

“It basically exonerates Officer Pantaleo,” London reportedly said. “It indicates that he didn’t use a chokehold. It indicates that the prior compromised cardiovascular system of [Garner] really is what lead to his demise. And it couldn’t be more positive for Officer Pantaleo.”

He reportedly continued, “I think it’s definitely important because if the Police Department thought his opinion would be not only informative but material and relevant certainly this tribunal should feel the same way.”

The Garner family hired their own medical expert who determined a chokehold killed 43-year-old Garner.

However, it doesn’t take an expert to see Garner was being choked to death on camera as he repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.”

Garner was approached by undercover NYPD officers on July 17, 2014, for the alleged offense of selling untaxed loose cigarettes. When officers failed at handcuffing him for the nonviolent misdemeanor, Pantaleo was caught on video with his arms wrapped tightly around Garner’s neck from behind. The chokehold ultimately killed Garner. The entire deadly episode was captured on cellphone video and filmed by a bystander. Garner’s final words “I can’t breathe” — became a rallying call for social justice advocates who saw his death as a murder.

The New York Police Department (NYPD) only began disciplinary proceedings against Officer Daniel Pantaleo in June of 2018.  A grand jury decided not to indict Pantaleo but the Department of Justice has until July 17 to bring a civil rights case against Pantaleo.

We are hoping some type of justice will be served for the Garner family, including for his daughter Erica Garner, who died of heart complications on December 30, 2017. She was only 27 years old.

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