The initial police report on the fatal arrest of Eric Garner in Staten Island last week makes no mention of a chokehold and downplayed the seriousness of Garner's condition, raising questions about how the investigation would have been conducted had graphic video of Garner's death not surfaced. Sgt. Dhanan Saminath also told interviewers that once Garner was in handcuffs "he did not appear to be in great distress," according to a copy of the report obtained by the Daily News.
Another officer at the scene, Sgt. Kizzy Adonis, told investigators that while she “believed she heard the perpetrator state that he was having difficulty breathing,” she believed "the perpetrator’s condition did not seem serious and that he did not appear to get worse." Garner went into cardiac arrest while lying face down on the sidewalk in handcuffs and was pronounced DOA at Richmond University Medical Center.
No mention of a chokehold, which has been prohibited by the NYPD since 1994, is made in the report. Officers Justin Damico and Daniel Pantaleo were not interviewed for the report because of a possible criminal investigation.
Garner's encounter with NYPD officers last week was not his first; in the past year Garner had been arrested several times, for selling untaxed cigarettes, driving without a license, and marijuana possession. The Times reports that Garner had been arrested more than 30 times over the years, and in 2007, Garner claimed that he was sodomized by an officer during a search. From the Staten Island Advance:
On Sept. 12, 2007, while being held in the Otis Barnum Correctional Center on Rikers, [Garner] wrote on a court form document: "On September. 1, 2007, at approx.. 7:30 p.m. on the corner of Castleton Ave & Heberton Ave [a police officer] and his team stopped me for reasons of there own. I was ordered to place my hands on the black SUV in which they were riding in.
"I complied with no problem. [The officer] then patted me down by ways of going through my pockets and socks and not finding anything illegal on my person. [The officer] then places me in handcuffs and then performs an cavity search on me by ways of 'digging his finggers in my rectum in the middle of the street.' "
Garner claimed the officer unzipped his shorts, and pulled out and inspected his genitals "in the middle of the street, all the while there are people passing back and forth. I told [the officer] to stop and if he wanted to do a strip search on me I'm willing to go to the police station if he wanted to because I had nothing to hide, my request was ignored.
"I then told [the officer] that I was fileing charges for him violating my civil rights, I was then hit with drug charges and told by [the officer] 'that I don't deserve my city job due to the fact that I'm an convicted felon on parole.' (I work for the New York City Park Department."
Under the "injuries" category, Garner claims "the injuries I received was to my manhood in which (the officer) violated" through the search of his rectum and genitals "for his own personal pleasure. (The officer) violated my civil rights.
Officer Pantaleo, who was caught on video putting Garner in a chokehold, has been sued twice for civil rights violations.
(UPDATE: A Parks Department spokesman confirms Garner worked for the Parks Department. "Eric Garner worked for Parks as a Job Training Participant from May 14, 2007 to September 1, 2007 and again from April 2, 2013 through September 24, 2013," says spokesman Philip Abramson. "In his recent position, he assisted with Staten Island horticulture crews and performed maintenance at the Greenbelt. These are approximately six-month positions and he left because his line ended.")
Meanwhile, the two paramedics and two emergency medical technicians who responded to the scene on Thursday have been suspended without pay. Many have questioned why first responders did not give Garner oxygen, and appeared to do little more than check his pulse and load him sloppily onto a stretcher. According to the Times, some experts wonder whether they "were intimidated by a large police presence and as a result failed to follow protocol."
Dr. Alexander Kuehl, referring to one of the EMTs, tells the Times, "It was like she either didn’t want to be there, which is hard to understand, or police basically told her to just let him alone. She certainly didn’t do her job. She’s totally overawed by the cops. She doesn’t do her assessment at all. There was something very peculiar about her approach."