Three days after a Staten Island man died after being put in a chokehold by police, the FDNY has put four EMTs on modified duty. FDNY spokesman Jim Long told the Wall Street Journal, "This is part of the process. It's not out of the ordinary."
However, this move comes after the release of an upsetting video which appears to show the emergency responders (who work for Richmond University Medical Center, not the FDNY) doing little to help Eric Garner, a 350-pound 43-year-old man who was arrested Thursday for allegedly selling illegal cigarettes. "It was time to assist him with oxygen, obviously," EMT union president Israel Miranda tells the Journal. "When someone has difficulty breathing the protocol is to give them oxygen." (Miranda doesn not represent the EMTs currently under investigation.)
A different and extremely disturbing video obtained by the Daily News shows Garner arguing with the police: "I was just minding my own business. Every time you see me you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today!" When a number of cops try to subdue him, Garner, who weighed 350 pounds, is seen swatting their hands away and saying, "Don’t touch me, please."
As Officer Daniel Pantaleo puts him in a chokehold, other officers struggle to pull him to the ground and get his arms behind his back. Garner, an asthmatic, can be heard repeatedly saying, "I can't breathe." He was later pronounced dead at Richmond University Medical Center. Pantaleo was stripped of his badge and gun while Officer Justin Damico was placed on modified duty. Chokeholds are prohibited by the NYPD patrol guide.
Celebrity pathologist Cyril Wecht told the News that Garner could have been saved: "'You want to position him in such a way to facilitate breathing." Wecht believes Garner's death was likely caused by a combination of a chokehold and being pinned down, but the Medical Examiner has not yet announced the cause of death. One unidentified source tells the News, "There’s no indication this is death by strangulation or asphyxia."
The Post spoke to a source who said the video of the EMTs shows that more could have been done:
"It was pretty obvious this patient was in distress. His body was limp and lifeless.”
Yet none of the workers — nor the eight cops on hand — can be seen in the video administering any aid to Garner. One medic at Garner’s side doesn’t even have any of the required equipment on her, such as an oxygen bag or a defibrillator, the source said.
“You can [only] hear her say, ‘Oh, he can’t walk to the bus?’ ” the source said.
Garner should have been immediately placed on a stretcher, and his airway, breathing and circulation checked, sources said. Instead, EMT Nicole Palmeri can be seen only checking for a pulse. She never uses a stethoscope to check his lungs for air movement, a source said, nor does she connect him to an oxygen mask.
“Maybe the EMT felt a pulse, but it was obvious this male was in serious distress and needed to be assisted with his breathing,” the source said.
Police are still investigating the death, and the Rev. Al Sharpton, who appeared with Garner's family repeatedly over the weekend, said, "If you say we just out here making trouble, just go to the tape! My message to the D.A. and the federal authorities is: Go to the tape! ... The tape speaks for itself! The whole world is looking at Staten Island!"