US & Canada

No cause of death for Eric Garner after New York arrest

People participated in a demonstration against the death of Eric Garner in New York on 19 July 2014 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A rally for Eric Garner was held in New York City at the weekend

Authorities have yet to determine a cause of death involving a man who died during an arrest in New York City.

Eric Garner, 43, was forcibly detained on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes on Thursday.

Video of the incident shows Garner complain he couldn't breathe as a police officer appeared to put his arm around Garner's neck.

Two officers and four emergency responders have been placed on modified duty pending an investigation.

"At this time, no determination has been made by the medical examiner's office as to the cause and manner of death of Eric Garner," medical examiner spokeswoman Julie Bolcer told US media.

"The cause and manner of death are pending further studies, and no findings will be released until the investigation is complete."

Image copyright AP

The 350lb (159kg) man had reportedly been sitting down outside a beauty salon in Staten Island when police approached him and said they had observed him selling loose cigarettes.

"Before they even grabbed him, he told them he wasn't feeling good and that's why I pulled the camera out and started recording," witness Ramsey Orta told the Associated Press news agency.

In a video of the incident, obtained by the New York Daily News, Garner can be seen arguing with officers as they attempted to detain him, saying: "Do not touch me."

An officer put his arm around Garner's neck and several other men forced him down on to the sidewalk, where he could be heard saying: "I can't breathe."

Garner is said to have been arrested 31 times since 1988 on charges including drug possession and assault.

Following his death, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said, "We have a responsibility to keep every New Yorker safe, and that includes when individuals are in custody of the NYPD [New York Police Department]".

Prosecutors and police investigators also launched inquiries into Garner's death.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Eric Garner's wife (centre) broke down in the arms of the Reverend Al Sharpton during a rally on Saturday
Image copyright AP
Image caption Mourners attended a service for Eric Garner in New York on the weekend
Image copyright AP
Image caption A temporary memorial has been erected for Eric Garner near the site of his death in New York

Officer Daniel Pantaleo, the officer identified as putting Garner in a chokehold, was stripped of his badge and gun pending results of the investigations.

Another unidentified police officer, said to be Mr Pantaleo's partner, was also placed on desk duty according to police officials.

Four emergency responders, said to be employees of an ambulance service which responded to the incident, have also been placed on modified duty pending an inquiry.

The Reverent Al Sharpton spoke at a rally in Harlem on Saturday, saying: "There is clearly no reason, when a man is saying, 'I can't breathe, I can't breathe,' that you maintain this chokehold."

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