Questions of police procedure, force surround death of NY man - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Questions of police procedure, force surround death of NY man

LEE CO., GA (WALB) - Authorities in New York are investigating this arrest that left a man dead in police custody.

In the wake of shocking cell phone video posted to YouTube, New York City Police say they were arresting 43 year-old Eric Garner, who was suspected of illegally selling cigarettes.

That arrest quickly escalated. The video captures what appears to be a choke hold on Garner, which is a violation of the NYPD's approved tactics.

Authorities say while he was being handcuffed, he went into cardiac arrest and died.

The Leesburg Police Department didn't want to comment about the video because they don't know all the details, but Leesburg Police Captain Chris Prokesh says every department has a use of force policy.

"The courts distinguish any level of force whether it be controlling force or defensive force by a law enforcement officer based upon what is reasonable and necessary given the circumstances."

Captain Prokesh says weapons like tasers, batons, and pepper spray have helped deter physical altercations in the department.

"Our policy requires that every officer here has to choose and be trained with at least one less lethal weapon, other than a firearm," explained Prokesh.

He says these tools give officers other options when forced to make split second decisions.

"There's the fear element. It's the fear of not only getting hurt yourself, but the fear of the consequences that can affect you based upon whatever you do," said Prokesh. "Officers are subject to suit, officers are subject to disciplinary action within the department. It's one of those things that officers a lot of times have felt like their hands are tied, where it's one of the great things about a taser, is a taser will bridge that gap."

The medical examiner's office in New York said it's still trying to determine what caused the death of Eric Garner.

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