“Coronary By Cop”: Should Police Follow Suspects’ Orders, Or The Other Way Around?

Hmm, let’s see, a 6′ 4″, 400-lb career criminal–with 31 prior arrests on a variety of charges ranging from drug possession to assault–adamantly refuses to be taken into custody by police who are investigating yet another an alleged crime by him (while he is out on bail facing 3 other charges), and he starts actively resisting when they try to handcuff him..

Then, in the ensuing struggle, he has a heart attack while being subdued by multiple officers, one of them using what many cops posting in online forums are insisting is not actually the form of choke-hold banned for use by the NYPD, but merely a quick take-down restraint technique, which protects the throat and windpipe while moving the subject to the prone position by steering the head–and thereby the body–in that direction.

The suspect, chronic street hustler and asthmatic diabetic Eric Garner, loses consciousness while being restrained on the sidewalk, and is transported to the hospital by paramedics where he is pronounced dead on arrival.

The next day, syndicated radio host Michael Savage–just as he did in the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case last year–loudly bellows blatantly dubious personal presumptions about the incident (such as, “he wasn’t doing anything!”) at the top of his program, and the top of his lungs, and millions of blindly rabid cop-haters pile on in countless other distorted forums.

Ignoring facts such as the extensive criminal history and overwhelming size of the subject, and other factors which point more to it being an accidental death (due to the suspect’s grave health issues and non-compliance) than a homicide caused by rogue cops, the howling masses all scream for the cops to be fired and/or charged with various crimes.

How would Savage, or any other supposed impartial party who wasn’t there, know what Garner was or wasn’t doing, during any amount of time prior to the video?

Remember, this Eric Garner incident comes hot on the heels of a 23-year-old rookie NYC-area cop being recently murdered in cold blood by another career criminal, whose wife announced on video, at a community event memorializing and glorifying the cop-killer, that she wished her husband had killed more cops.

There’s no denying that there are racial dynamics being brought to bear, appropriately or not, in this and countless other incidents having to do with crime and police work.

However, even left-wing New York City mayor Bill de Blasio went on record to clarify a crucial aspect of the matter saying, “Not wanting to be arrested does not grant an individual the right to resist arrest, nor does it free the officers of the obligation to make the arrest.”

What do you think would happen, to society and to the overall effectiveness of law enforcement, if every time an actively resisting suspect protested loudly that they couldn’t breathe, or otherwise demanded that the cops needed to let off and let up on them while attempting to take them into custody, and got their way?  What if the police just took their word for it, and let the perp call the shots?

Eric Garner’s death was avoidable, that’s for sure.  Of course, I wasn’t there either, but based on Garner’s long rap sheet of priors, I give the cops at the scene the benefit of the doubt as to having probable cause to arrest him for illegally selling cigarettes.

Furthermore, it was Garner’s choice to use the tactics of protest, and loudly claim that he was being harassed by the cops while putting up his hands to fight them off as they tried to cuff him–he caused the situation which resulted in his experiencing cardiac arrest, because he resisted arrest instead of letting the court (where he was headed this October anyway, to face 3 previous charges) sort it all out.

The politically realistic outcome of this, I expect, is that the officer who used the controversial take-down will be thrown under the bus for it, since it is close enough to a choke-hold that even the police union won’t be able to save his job from the seething mobs demanding his scalp.

While it’s true that these days we are being exposed to increasing amounts of evidence of police brutality and abuse of authority by badge-heavy cops across the land, especially with the proliferation of cell phone recordings and the surfeit of internet videos on social media, nonetheless we have to weigh all known factors, and consider a myriad of unknown factors carefully when confronted with recorded incidents such as the Eric Garner case, and the recent roadway apprehension of a black female wherein the white male officer punched her repeatedly in order to subdue her.  Such videos contain highly provocative but often also very abbreviated information, imagery, and actions, which may or may not allow viewers to reach accurate conclusions about what really took place, and especially why.

As I said, I’m giving the cops in this case the benefit of the doubt here, for now.  Based on what I’ve stated, I think you should too–and I’m as serious as a heart attack when I command you not to dance to Al Sharpton’s blaring megaphone when it comes to this, or any other episode.



Donald Joy

About the author, Donald Joy: Following his service in the United State Air Force, Donald Joy earned a bachelor of science in business administration from SUNY while serving in the army national guard. As a special deputy U.S. marshal, Don was on the protection detail for Attorney General John Ashcroft following the attacks of 9/11. He lives in the D.C. suburbs of Northern Virginia with his wife and son. View all articles by Donald Joy

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