The death of 43-year-old Eric Gardner, who died from a heart attack after he was held down and put in a chokehold
by New York City police officers in Staten Island for selling untaxed cigarettes could turn into another "Rodney King" type of case, says renown criminal defense attorney F. Lee Bailey.
"I'm afraid New York is flirting with another Rodney King," Bailey told John Bachman on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV
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"The video is very condemnatory," he explained. "The offense is so petty that the amount of force used looks unreasonable."
"Any time you put a chokehold on someone, even though you don't suffocate, you run the risk of cardiac arrest, especially someone as grossly overweight as Eric Garner," Bailey added.
The former defense attorney for O.J. Simpson explained that the New York City police officers "have been caught breaking the rules, ganging up on a single guy, and in this case for a terribly petty offense."
"However, New York's community is quite different than Los Angeles," Bailey said. "I do not expect an outbreak of rioting, but I do expect that the police commissioner will be urged to take some pretty strict action."
Rodney King was beaten by police officers in the Los Angeles area in 1991 after he allegedly was caught resisting arrest following a police chase, which was caught on video tape and quickly went viral. When the four police officers were acquitted for assault with a deadly weapon and use of excessive force in April 1992, massive riots broke out in Los Angeles.
Former New York Police Department detective Sgt. Wally Zeins told Newsmax that he does not agree with the Rodney King comparison.
In the case of King, "he took a real beating," Zeins explained.
"[The NYPD] were using necessary force to effect the arrest in the sense that he was a 350-pound person, and they had to try to cuff [Gardner], put handcuffs on him," the former NYPD detective said.
"But in relation to it, it's not a question because it's a misdemeanor or it's a felony," he added. "The person still broke the law and had to be arrested."
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