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NYC police training to be overhauled after custody death
July 22, 2014 / 11:05 PM / 3 years ago

NYC police training to be overhauled after custody death

NEW YORK (Reuters) - All New York City police officers are expected to undergo retraining in the wake of a man’s death on a city sidewalk shortly after he was placed in a chokehold by officers, Bill Bratton, the police commissioner, said on Tuesday.

A woman pays respect with a candle at the memorial of Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, July 21, 2014. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

The dying moments of Eric Garner, 43, can be seen in two bystanders’ videos, which have provoked outrage in the city. Garner can be seen arguing with several police officers, who were arresting him on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes, before he is grappled onto the sidewalk, pleading that he cannot breathe.

“This department clearly needs to do more training,” Bratton told reporters at the city’s police headquarters. He said training practices would be overhauled, focusing particularly on the use of force and on improving relations with non-white New Yorkers.

Bratton said it appears one of the officers used a chokehold on Garner, who was an African-American father of six children and previously worked for the city’s parks department. The city’s police have been barred from using chokeholds, which can be deadly, since 1993.

The city’s medical examiner is yet to rule on the cause of Garner’s death.

Bratton also defended his policing strategy of cracking down on even minor crimes such as the sale of loose cigarettes - a practice often referred to as “broken windows” or quality-of-life policing.

“‘Broken windows,’ quality-of-life will remain an essential component used in balance,” Bratton said. Bratton believes a similar approach during his previous tenure as the city’s police commissioner in the 1990s helped trigger the sharp decline in violent crimes in the city over the last two decades.

Bratton said senior figures from his department had met with officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation who were “monitoring” the case on Tuesday morning. The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bratton also said he anticipated the U.S. attorney for New York’s Eastern District to open a federal civil-rights violation investigation into Garner’s death.

Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, wrote in an email that Lynch’s office was “closely following investigative developments in this tragic case.”

The district attorney in Staten Island and the police department’s internal affairs bureau are investigating the circumstances surrounding Garner’s death.

Garner’s wife and mother were leading a candlelight vigil on Staten Island on Tuesday night ahead of his funeral in Brooklyn on Wednesday.

Additional reporting by Natasja Sheriff and Joseph Ax; Editing by Eric Walsh

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