The New York man who died during a police chokehold would be alive today had he not resisted arrest, former New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik said Thursday on Newsmax TV's
“The mayor and others are relating this incident strictly to race,” he said. “The bottom line is, in my opinion, Eric Garner would be alive today had he not resisted arrest. I don't care what color he was. He resisted a lawful arrest
and that resistance escalated, the use of force by the officer escalated, which resulted ultimately and tragically in his death.”
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All of the rhetoric that the incident was somehow motivated by race is only aggravating the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve, according to Kerik.
“I wish the people that are doing it for some political stance, I wish they'd stop. It's really hurting,” he said.
When watching the video, Kerik said he saw Eric Garner resisting a lawful arrest and officers attempting to subdue him. Garner was suspected of selling illegal cigarettes.
”The first thing the officer does is he grabs Garner from behind to pull him off balance to try to get him down to the ground,” Kerik said. “The use of force is to put him in handcuffs.
“I don't care if he had a weapon or not. He still has to comply with the order, that's the law and the officer has the right to use force to put him in handcuffs. If you watch the video, even when he's on the ground, even when he has three officers around him, even when he has the guy on the back of him holding him, he's still resisting and not complying.
“What were they supposed to do at that point? They were supposed to let him go? Get off him and say 'you're too big for us and too strong so we're going to let you go, you can go break the law if you want and we'll go about our business'. That's not the way it works.”
The NYPD will conduct an internal investigation into the officer’s use of force and a review board will determine whether it was excessive or in violation of department policy, according to Kerik.
The public should note that the murder rate in New York has declined by 80 percent over the past 20 years, he added.
“If someone is getting murdered and they are called to the scene, that cop never picks up that radio and says 'what color is the victim?' They go,” he said. “They go and they put their lives on the line for communities in every city around this country. In New York, the minority community has resulted in an 80 percent reduction in homicides over the last 20 years. They do that regardless of color and sometimes people forget that.”
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