— Round 1 —
The victime in this story suffered and has passed away. This article does not seek to detract from that tragedy. However, before laying blame at the feet of the arresting officers, due dilligence should first be done to determine if this man was really innocent or if the officers acted as they have been trained to do. Stories like this are flammable, but making a hurried conclusion only fuels the proverbial fire. The man may not have committed a crime worthy of death, but resisting arrest and acting belligerently has consequences. Proclaiming innocence without ascertaining proper context is usually indicative of poor journalism.
The victim in this story died not because he "committed" a crime, but from an unlawful use of physical force by law enforcement. The man died in a chokehold after repeatedly telling the police officers he could not breathe. Unless you are in favor of extrajudicial killings, this atrocity is an unbelievable breach of protocol. Even the NYPD believed so evidenced by their swift removal of the officer's badge and gun.
You do make a fair point, however. Too many people are guilty of rushing to judgement without having all the facts and, admittedly, my title was clearly biased. The victim was reportedly being arrested for selling cigarettes (tax free). Even if the man became irate and uncontrollable, the officers are trained to use tasers and use approved techniques to subdue such individuals. I simply find it unimaginable that a man lost his life over something so trivial.
— Round 2 —
I am certainly not in favor of extrajudicial killings. I didn't commend or say I supported the use of such force by the arresting officers, either. I simply raised the point that "innocence" can be a term too easily reached for without proper context.
The NYPD likely is following protocol for the death of a civilian during the course of an arrest and no doubt wanted to make a positive PR move following such a egregious situation. It cannot be said with certainity what actions and words transpired during that fateful encounter, but with the rash of reports citing abuse of the public by law enforcement, it is important that we remain critically realistic, examining each circumstance carefully so as not to get caught up in the tumultuous waves of public opinion. It may seem that an "innocent man" died unjustly, but hindsight is always 20-20.
If you watch the video of this event, it is unbelievably clear the police used excessive force on a man who was not physically resisting the police. The man was completely unarmed and police failed to follow their own protocols. Chokeholds are considered a prohibited practice and for good reason. Obstructing the airway of an individual for an extended period of time is extremely dangerous. In fact, the leading cause of death of individuals who are subjected to any type of restraints is asphyxiation. There is a reason chokeholds are a prohibited practice.
The NYPD has a long history of racism, using excessive force, and failing to follow protocol. The issues, reportedly, are so prevalent and egregious that NYPD has been forced to review its "stop and frisk policy" by a federal court. The court found the policy in violation of the fourth amendment. The controversial policy led to a documentary, which garnered millions of views on YouTube, being released to the public. This video featured former and current police officers, as well as victims of the policy, discussing the rampant abuses perpetuated by NYPD policies and procedures. I guess we should not be surprised the NYPD fails to follow standard restraint policies given its extremely poor track records of violating constitutional rights.
Hindsight is 20-20... We should learn from mistakes so we prevent such mistakes from turning into even bigger issues. Althought this man may have not been "innocent," he lost his life because police failed to follow their own practices. They clearly used excessive force that directly resulted in the loss of a human life. A man DID die unjustly and it should not be taken lightly. Police often times get a pass just because they have a badge. In this case, this officer lost his gun and his badge while a man lost his life due to this officers aggression.