September 15, 1970
July 17, 2014
Age at Death:
Eric Garner was a 43-year-old husband, father, and grandfather. He had been married to his wife Esaw Garner for nearly twenty years. They had six children, including a three-month-old child at the time, and three grandchildren. Eric was born on September 15, 1970, in New York City, New York. He lived in Staten Island and was known as the "neighborhood peacemaker", and a generous, congenial person. He worked as a horticulturist at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation before quitting for health reasons, and to spend more time with family.
On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner was murdered in Staten Island, New York when a New York City Police Officer put him in a prohibited chokehold. Garner was approached that day by NYPD officers on suspicion of selling cigarettes illegally. After he told police that he was not selling them, they attempted to arrest Garner. When the officer tried to arrest him, Garner pulled away and the officer then placed his arm around Garner's neck and wrestled him to the ground. Multiple officers joined in to pin him to the ground in an illegal chokehold. Garner repeated the words “I can’t breathe” eleven times while lying face down on the sidewalk. After losing consciousness, he remained lying on the sidewalk for seven minutes while the officers waited for an ambulance to arrive.
Was justice served?
As of February 2021, true justice has not been served. Although Garner's death was ruled a homicide, on December 4, 2014, a Richmond County grand jury decided not to indict the officer. The decision sparked public protests and rallies, with charges of police brutality made by protesters. In October 2014, Garner's family stated their intent to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of New York, the police department, and several police officers. On July 13, 2015, an out-of-court settlement was reached, under which the City of New York would pay the Garner family $5.9 million. Later, in 2019, the United States Department of Justice refused to bring criminal charges against the officer but decided to terminate his employment. He was fired on August 19, 2019, more than five years after Garner's death. Garner's family believes that the officers firing should only be the beginning of the process.