An officer with the New York Police Department has admitted that he falsified a police report he had filed after Eric Garner’s death, in order to make it seem like Garner was guilty of a felony.
On July 17, 2014, NYPD officers stopped 43-year-old Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, and accused him of selling untaxed cigarettes. When confronted, Garner denied selling cigarettes and asked the police to leave him alone. The situation quickly escalated.
When he resisted arrest, an officer appeared to put Garner in a carotid bar and pushed him to the ground. In a video taken by a bystander, Garner can be heard saying multiple times that he couldn’t breathe. Soon afterward, Garner was dead. He had six children. “I can’t breathe” would become a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement.
The NYPD told the Daily News that Garner had been “placed in custody, went into cardiac arrest and died” at the hospital. However, a New York medical examiner ruled that Garner’s death was a homicide.
On Tuesday, NYPD officer Justin D’Amico testified that when he filled out arrest papers for Garner, he had claimed that Garner was guilty of a felony tax charge that would only have applied if he had sold 10,000 or more untaxed cigarettes. D’Amico admitted that this was untrue, and that Garner had fewer than 100 cigarettes on him at the time of his death.
D’Amico was testifying as part of an administrative trial to see whether or not the cop accused of being responsible for Garner’s death, Daniel Pantaleo, should be fired from the force. A grand jury in 2014 decided not to indict Pantaleo. He had been the only police officer who faced criminal charges related to Garner’s death.