I will never get comfortable with murder — be it by the police or Pookie-next-door. Police shootings are always subject to review. But what about police “chokings” that are done under the guise of a so-called “arrest?” In New York City, Eric Garner, father of six, was standing on the sidewalk outside a store when confronted by the NYPD for allegedly selling “loose squares.” 

The videotape of the incident begins with the man denying the allegation and commenting that the police seem hell-bent on “f’ing” with him. All the man wants is for the cops to “leave him alone.” Garner appears to be 2-3 times the size of the officer. A second cop was there, and when the man turns to say something to him, he is seized from behind by the first cop, then joined by others to take the man down. As they pounce on him, he is taken down on the sidewalk. In the video, you can hear the man lament that he’s unable to breathe. But with four cops on top of him, one holding his neck, one at his feet and the other two trying to get his arms, their concern is more in subduing the “offender” than whether or not the man can breathe. 

Those cops played judge, jury and executioner. 

Anyone viewing that video should be outraged. It was murder — pure and simple. A man’s life was taken — snuffed out like a cigarette butt. Thankfully, the ire of black folks in NYC has surfaced, with prominent folks demanding justice for Eric Garner. Civil rights leaders like Al Sharpton have been leading the charge to have the police officers involved charged with murder. 

Earlier this year, a similar situation occurred that failed to get the attention of many. Luis Rodriguez and his wife Nair were leaving the movies. The police, responding to a domestic abuse call about his daughter having been slapped, confronted Luis Rodriguez as the perpetrator. In the video, five cops are holding Luis down as they try to handcuff him. Luis doesn’t struggle and you can see that one cop is pressing Luis head into the asphalt ground while the other comes up and adds his knee to the pressure. Luis Rodriguez just like Eric Garner dies from an encounter with police. Both of their deaths are classic cases of police brutality. 

Luis Rodriguez’s murder story has never gotten the press that it should have. His family is now suffering more because the DA in Moore, Oklahoma has chosen not to prosecute the officers. In a grainy security camera video, the police can be seen kicking at Luis. The police report claimed that when initially confronted by the police, Luis Rodriguez “took an aggressive stance.” And although Luis Rodriguez stopped breathing at the scene, the report claimed he was stabilized and then died later at the hospital, thus not making his death directly attributable to the police. This past June, the DA ruled in favor of the police. 

By the way, the original domestic violence was due to Nair Rodriguez slapping her daughter. Luis had nothing to do with it. As civil rights leaders fight for Eric Garner, I hope they fight for Luis Rodriguez as well. Both of the men were large men, but in neither video did either of them put up a struggle against the police to justify their being killed by chokeholds. 

CONTACT: westside2day@yahoo.com


7 replies on “Fight back against choking deaths by police”