This is all that the public saw and ostensibly needed to know. “New York City reached a settlement with the family of Eric Garner on Monday, agreeing to pay $5.9 million to resolve a wrongful-death claim over his killing by the police on Staten Island last July, the city comptroller and a lawyer for the family said.” [NYT]
This was the wrong case to focus on. They saw what they considered and construed to be a choke hold, though it wasn’t, and further assumed perhaps that an arrestee may respectfully decline an arrest and that’s the end of it. And despite the fact that many Americans are under the deluded belief that they are experts in forensic pathology after having watched Quincy and the CSI for years, these particular facts undoubtedly confound them. Mr. Garner died tragically while he was arresting a legal and lawful arrest. His poor health and myriad medical maladies undoubtedly contributed to his demise when he was pronounced dead an hour later. In fact, as today’s settlement indicates, the emergency response team was certainly culpable. This may also surprise people that you cannot respectfully or violently decline being arrested.
“You can beat the rap but you can’t beat the ride.” And as you now know well the factor that made this case different from all the others was that it was recorded in real time on social media. Were it not for these particular scenes, it is hard to tell what would be the disposition of this case. The point has been repeatedly made over the fact that the medical examiner ruled this case a homicide. As I’m sure you are aware, homicide does not necessarily mean criminal negligence or culpability. It means that his death was not natural, accidental, suicide or undetermined.