An administrative lawyer for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has angered the New York Police Department by tweeting support for Eric Garner, who died in police custody after officers used a chokehold to subdue him.
Garner, 43 and a father of six children, was on his way to Buffalo Wild Wings when a fight broke out. He broke the fight up but was accused of selling untaxed cigarettes.
Then the altercation broke out.
Time magazine talked to Ramsey Orta, Garner’s friend, who videotaped the entire ordeal. A visibly upset Garner argues with the NYPD officers who accused him of selling cigarettes out of his bag. Garner said he didn’t have a bag, and no bag is visible in the video.
“Every time you see me, you wanna harass me,” Garner says in the video. “You wanna stop me, try to say I’m selling cigarettes. I’m minding my business, officer. I’m minding my business, please just leave me alone.”
At that point, the two officers forcefully grab Garner, who is asthmatic and diabetic, and force him to the ground. One puts him in a chokehold as another slams his head to the concrete.
“I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” Garner cries.
The officer, Daniel Pantaleo, was stripped of his badge and gun, but is still working in a non-enforcement capacity according to SILive.com. Four EMTs were also suspended without pay.
Now, the NYPD is furious about a tweet posted July 19 by Ian Bassin, an administrative lawyer for de Blasio.
RIP Eric Garner. You deserved so much more from our City. We will and we must do better.
— Ian Bassin (@blue24fox) July 19, 2014
“That is crazy. This administration is filled with a bunch of liberal loonies,” said a police source to the New York Post. “I don’t understand how someone who represents the mayor could go public with a statement like that without the autopsy report.”
Garner had 30 prior arrests, including for assault, before the officers tried to arrest him for selling the “loosie,” a single cigarette. But police on the scene did not inform Internal Affairs about how they took Garner to the ground. IA did not know about the chokehold until the video surfaced.
De Blasio said he was “very troubled” by the footage. Prosecutors and the NYPD are investigating the incident. Mourners gathered Wednesday night to bury Garner. (RELATED: Is Selling Untaxed Cigarettes Now A Capital Offense?)