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Eric Garner Chokehold Death: NY Police Union Chief Praises Grand Jury

The union chief praised the police officer as a good man who did a difficult job.
Image: Eric Garner, 46, died on Staten Island on July 17, 2014, during an arrest for allegedly selling untaxed, single cigarettes.
A 400-pound asthmatic Eric Garner died while being arrested by police in Staten Island. NY Daily News via Getty Images

The head of the New York police union said Thursday that a grand jury made the right call when it declined to indict an officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, an unarmed man, in July.

“We feel badly that there was a loss of life,” said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. “But unfortunately Mr. Garner made a choice that day to resist arrest.”

He praised the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, as a good man, a mature policeman and an Eagle Scout who “went out and did a difficult job, a job where there’s no script, and sometimes with that there’s tragedy that comes.”

“It’s also a tragedy for this police officer who has to live with that death,” Lynch said.

He also praised New York police for their handling of protests on Wednesday night, when thousands who objected to the decision took to the streets. Lynch lashed out at Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said on Wednesday that the grand jury’s decision not to bring charges was “one that many in our city did not want.”

He suggested that the mayor was teaching children to fear police officers, and he said the lesson instead should be to comply with police officers, even if they feel an arrest is unjust.

“You cannot resist arrest,” Lynch said. “Because resisting arrest leads to confrontation. Confrontation leads to tragedy.”


— Erin McClam