It's been a few weeks and like many of you, I wanted to get real credible info from reliable sources. I FOREWARN EVERYONE THAT THIS IS NOT TO BE A POLITICAL CONVERSATION. I am posting this because factual basis is the proper frame of mind for making decisions and drawing conclusions. If you have something to add, or contradict, then feel free to do so, but this is to be about FACTS and not political banter, nor emotional bias. If you cannot abide by that, then don't post. As a matter of full disclosure, I am a sworn officer at my local Sheriff's Office; have been for 20 years. So I may be unintentionally biased, but I'm trying my best to avoid emotion and only present facts. First of all, we need to acknowledge the concept of "Use of Force Doctrine". This is covered in many places, and is taught at every Law Enforcement Academy. It is covered in many credible sources; google as many as you'd like but this one is fairly concise and direct: http://www.nij.gov/topics/law-enforcement/officer-safety/use-of-force/Pages/continuum.aspx Also know that each law entity is typically going to have their own written version of the Use of Force (UoF) in their SOPs. They will "fine tune" the terms and procedures, but they all essentially follow the UoF doctrine conceptually. Law officers are allowed to meet the threat level, and exceed it by only one level, to gain control of a situation, relative to their perception of the event as determined "reasonable". This has been covered in case decisions at both State and Federal court levels all the way up to two decisions at the SCOTUS. This is, for all intents and purposes, the "law of the land" when it comes to use of force. That in mind, you now need to look up the two live videos of the Garner event. Yes, there are two; one is of the infamous event, and one is right afterward. You'll need to view both to understand the sequence and series of events. - In the first one, note that the public version running around the internet is actually edited. In there, you can clearly see a "frame cut" that likely excludes many of the missing clues that the Grand Jury likely was able to see. The public video cuts from the officers standing around, and then essentially "tackling" him in what is outwardly seen as a "choke hold". (More on that later). What is NOT seen is when the video cuts, it is very likely that there were verbal commands given to effect the arrest. What we do see is that the officers did transition to soft empty hand control techniques. Garner was both verbally and physically resistive; you can see and hear his resistance in the video. The officers were justified in UoF Continuum to go "hands on" and use control techniques. This isn't even debateable here; it's accepted across this nation as the proper actions for the threat level Garner exhibited. What many would decry is the "choke" hold. I'll get to that a bit later. In the second video, you can see Garner on his side and appears unconscious or semi-conscious. He is now hand-cuffed. Both an NYPD officer and a NYFD Medical responder check Garner for signs of life, and they take no immediate actions. What to conclude from this? At the time he was on his side, he must have had a pulse and was breathing. If he had no pulse, they would have had a medical reason and duty to start CPR. Now you can aruge that perhaps the cops didn't really care, but I find that dubious. And what bias would the medical personnel have as a motive to allow him to die there at the scene? There are a LOT of cops and some medical personnel on scene; if Garner had no pulse, there would be a duty to start CPR. No one did. The implication is that CPR was not started because it was not needed; while perhaps unconscious, he was breathing and hand a pulse at the scene. As for being on his side, that is also proper technique for placing someone who may be at risk for "positional asphyxia". That term describes a condition when obsese people lay flat on their belly, and the belly fat then presses into the chest cavity restricting the diaphram from being able to draw in air. This is widely known and taught as a cautionary concern in LEO training. As for the "choke hold", one must understand that the term is widely used improperly. First of all, "choking" is a cause of loss of air exchange from an internal obstruction (food, object, etc). Strangulation is the proper term for no air exchange from external sources (hands, ligature, etc). But that's just using proper terms; it's immportant for discussion later. Also know that while the NYPD has officially stated it does not teach "choke holds", they very quietly did acknowledge that they do teach neck restraint techniques after being repeatedly asked for clarification. When we think of a "choke hold" we automatically think of dastardly intent and malice. But in actuality, physical neck restraint is taught at many LEO academies and national LEO institutions. In fact, the NYPD teachs such, and the officers were trained in that technique. Here is a great reference to the UoF continuum, and pay special attiontion to page nine: http://cops.usdoj.gov/files/ric/Publications/hampton.pdf In that document, note that "Neck Restraint Immobilization Techniques" are a part of the UoF. Also note that this document is NOT done by some biased, political sub-group; that is linked via the DOJ/COPS program (Departent of Justice - Community Organized Police Services). http://www.cops.usdoj.gov Also note that the document was written by Ronald Hampton, Executive Director of the National Black Police Association. Now - there are "choke holds" and there are also "Neck Restraint Immobilization Techniques". They are different. To truly be a "choke hold" that would cause death, several things would have to occur; - the hold would have to directly compress the trachea (windpipe) of the victim to a point where no exchange of breath could occur - to compress the treachea with such force would leave significant medical evidence of the trauma - the compression would have to be of sufficient duration as to not only cause a loss of air exchange, but it must continue AFTER loss of consciousness because even after loss of consciousness, the auto-respiratory functions continue (to strangle someone to death you cannot "choke" someone only until they pass out; you have to continue to strangle them for 5-7 minutes until the heart and brain cease to function or else the auto-respiratory funtion would re-establish continued breathing) - to be "choked" (stangled), you cannot breath, nor speak; to be able to speak, you must be able to breathe. It is physically impossible to claim you're being "choked" to death, in multiple statements. If you can draw air in and force out words, then you are breathing. It is physically impossible and medically inaccurate to outwardly blurt sentences repeatedly indicating one cannot breath; the two are mutually exclusive. If you can't breathe, you cannot speak. If you can speak, you are breathing. In the infamous video, Garner is heard multiple times claiming "I can't breathe!" up to perhaps 10 or 11 times over and over. The fact that he can CLEARLY be heard during the application of the neck restraint is overwhelming evidence that he can, in fact, breathe. This proves that the neck restraint was NOT a "choke hold", but a physical restraint technique as taught by the NYPD, and acknowledged as useful in the Use of Force doctrine by the Department of Justice. If Garner was being strangled, then how is it he was able to communicate his words over and over during the application of the neck restraint? In fact, one cannot even sensibly argue that the restraint was mis-applied, because Garner was able to clearly articulate his objections repeatedly. I was curious as to the offical statements for cause of death. I directly contacted the NYC OCME (Office of Chief Medical Examiner). I spoke directly with the appointed representative, Julie Bolcer. I told her I wanted any/all publically available information regarding the Garner case, as shall be shared in compliance with FOIL (Freedom of Information Law in New York). She gave me a specific reading of the official statement, and she also sent me an email. Here is the contact info for that office: http://www.nyc.gov/html/ocme/html/contact/contact.shtml You must first email them and they will give you the contact info for the proper person. In this case, I was directed to Julie Bolcer. I was told this is the exact statement from the Death Certificate. The following is an EXACT display of the email sent to me at my SO email address: Cause of Death: Compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police Contributing Conditions: Acute and chronic bronchial asthma; Obesity; Hypertensive cardiovascular disease Manner of Death: Homicide I was told by Bolcer that the information came directly from the official death certificate, because only that is open for public consumption. As this was ruled a "homicide" many details are withheld in case of criminal prosecution. Here is what the CDC says should be included in a Death Certificate, and generally how it should be completed. Note that it is understandable that governmental entites do have some descretion as to the use of formatting, etc, but the key to grasp is that the death certificate is to be specific, complete, medically descriptive, and professional. See this website: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/dvs/blue_form.pdf Now go back and read what I was emailed, and then read again the CDC instructions for death certificate completions. Do you see a glaring disparity between the official death certificate statement and the CDC instructions? Think about these things ... - death certificates should use proper medical terminology - the cause of death should be delineated in medical chronology - the death certificate does not need to, nor should it, identify suspects Ask yourself these things ... Why does the official NYC OCME statement say "choke hold"? The proper terms would be strangulation causing asphyxiation. Am I supposed to believe that the largest city in the US does not employ a Chief Medical Examiner that is capable of using proper medical terms? Why does the document list "compression of neck", but not describe any trauma to the trachea? Compression of neck and chest is NOT a cause of death; again improper terms and incomplete methodology. And since when does the OCME get to also be the prosecutor and identify the suspects of the homicide? They specifically name the "police" as part of the cause of death. Nowhere in the CDC instuctions is there any instuction as to naming suspects. Now, I'm not so stupid as to believe that the medical examiner who actually performed the autopsy was so sloppy as we're lead to believe, but that is what they (the OCME office) are putting out publically for us to consume. And I am not going to jump to any conclusion here; you are welcome to form your own opinion as to the motivations that might influence such a respected governmental entity into making such a hap-hazard and unprofessional document. For me to believe that the actions of police caused this death, I would expect to see something such as this formally stated: Cause of death: asphyxia Contributing methods: trauma to trachea; positonal restriction of lung capacity Why do I say it in that manner? Two reasons. One is that my statement includes professional medical terms and is descriptive in both cause and method. The other is that I contacted two other Coroner offices for their interpretation of how it might be properly stated. In fact, once I informed them of what I was supplied by the NYC OCME, they were in awe that such an unprofessional statement would be dissemminated in such sloppy manner, especially in such a high-profile event! So think about this in total review: - a suspect was identified as having committed a crime and was approached by police; this initiates the UoF - the public video clearly omits part of the interaction, conveniently when police likley gave Garner verbal commands for arrest; this would be proper UoF escalation - the video clearly shows the proper application of a neck restraint technique - the neck restraint technique is authorized by the NYPD and taught at their academy - the neck restraint technique is recognized as a viable control method in UoF doctrine by the DOJ - the video clearly shows Garner being able to speak repeatedly, discounting his claim of being unable to breathe - the video clearly shows Garner being on his side after being cuffed, to avoid positional asphyxia - the video clearly shows Garner being checked for pulse and breathing while on his side - the offical NYC OCME death certificate statment is very vague and lacks any professional terminology - the offical NYC OCME death certificate statment goes beyond typical protocol by naming suspects of a homicide Why did the Grand Jury not indict the officers? Likely because when they got to see ALL the evidence, with no bias from outside sources, it was clear this was an accident and not intentional nor malicious. There was no use of improper "choke hold". No one would deny that this was a horrible event, and culminated in a tradegy. But to blame the cops for Garners death is a HUGE stretch, and does not exist in concert with the evidence. I assure you that the facts I've presented are true in full faith by me. If you doubt me, then do your own research, contact the OCME, and learn about UoF doctrine. I don't mind being challenged, but if you do, don't wing it. Do your own research and challenge me with credible, reliable, affirmable facts. I offer this because I think it is important that a rational, clear analysis comes from this experience. We have an emotionally charged event that needs calm, cool heads to prevail. Feel free to concur or contradict these facts I've presented, but I ask that if you dissent, please be specific with credible sourcing to back up your position. And leave the politics and emotions off the posts.