CIVIC CENTER — The city’s police unions vehemently denied Tuesday that Eric Garner was put in a chokehold during an arrest before his death — following a firestorm of criticism of the department they say has been fanned by mayor Bill de Blasio’s rush to judgment in the incident.
“It was not a chokehold,” Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said Tuesday at a press conference at the union’s headquarters. “He was a big man who had to be brought to the ground to be placed under arrest by shorter police officers.”
“Sometimes the use of force is necessary. But it’s never pretty to watch,” Lynch said.
A report by the New York City Medical Examiner released last week ruled that the death was a homicide and listed one of the causes of Garner’s death as a chokehold. PBA President Patrick Lynch called the ME’s report “political.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio defended the report today saying, “I have a lot of respect for the Medical Examiner’s Office in New York City. I think it’s the gold standard in this country for the work they do, the science they use to come up with their answers, and I think that should be respected in and of itself.”
The PBA president and the Sergeant’s Benevolent Association president criticized the mayor and the police commissioner’s handling of the entire situation.
“There’s a lack of respect for law enforcement resulting from the slanderous, insulting and unjust manner in which police officers are being portrayed by race-baiters, politicians, pundits and even our elected officials,” said Lynch.
The union presidents also lashed out at the Rev. Al Sharpton.
“Al Sharpton is not a credible individual. He never has been, yet he’s all over the media. He gets front page,” said SBA President Edward Mullins.
“I do not believe he has credibility. I believe he has an opinion and we will protect his right to give that opinion. But he doesn’t have the right to make up facts. He shouldn’t have the right to sit at the lead table at City Hall and stir up the streets and then it becomes dangerous for police officers,” said Lynch.