Last night an old high school acquaintance of mine posted on a social site “The man who shot the video of Eric Garner’s murder says he only testified 10 minutes in front of Grand Jury.” As I read this I was taken aback by this statement. But instead of publically confronting the writer where others might not only interrupt the conversation but also might see the bias of the statement, I chose to speak on it via private messaging.
Do you see what I consider the problem with her statement? In case you haven’t it is the three words “Eric Garner’s murder”. I said to writer “why are you convicting the officer without his day in court by saying “Eric Garner’s murder”. Murder is defined as “the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.” Do you really think that police officer trying to subdue Garner, who in the video was resisting, had the forethought of ending Garner’s life? Are you also willing to bypass the premise that all are innocent until proven guilty in America?”
The response was that the medical examiner declared the death a homicide. I again responded with “a medical examiner has five categories to classify a death. They are:
Natural Causes – when a person dies of old age, cancer, or other disease.
Accident – when a person dies from injuries incurred in an accident like falling off a roof, car accident, etc.
Suicide – when a person takes actions that end his/her own life intentionally.
Undetermined – When the medical examiner cannot find a cause of death.
Homicide – When the intentional actions of one person result in the death of another. It does not mean that the actions were criminal, it means that another person was involved and the death does not meet the criteria of any of the other classifications.
I went on to say that until the officer has his day in court and is proven guilty, like every other American he is innocent.
I was countered with “he will never have his day in court since the grand jury found no basis to charge him.”
I asked “if a grand jury listens and views the evidence and determines that there is no legal ground for charging a person, and grand juries normally only get the evidence that the prosecution provides and there is no defense during that time, how can we who are not part of that jury 2nd guess their decision when we were not in the proceeding?”
“There is a lot of corruption here in New York in the police department and prosecutor’s office” the reply came back.
Once again, I tried to reason “Ok, neither of us has the transcript of the proceedings yet, but they will be made public so if there was corruption or abuse it will be visible at that time. Also, the video of the incident shows Eric Garner moving his arms around to try and keep the police from handcuffing him which constitutes resisting arrest. We also see that it took several officers, not just the two at the beginning of the video to finally get the cuffs on him. We also know that he was alive when he was put in the ambulance and from the EMS testimony that he died on the way to the hospital. Finally, I will not condemn a person based off of partial information that is given to us by the media who has an agenda of their own. Look at Ferguson, there were several people from the neighborhood where the altercation happened that supported the officer’s story. Yet, the media has failed to tell that part even though the grand jury transcript was made public.”
“But they should have just given him a summons and let him go.”
He already had pending charges for the same crime and was out on bail. When a person is out on bail, they are to not be out there committing more crimes. When law enforcement observe them violating the law again, they pick them up because they have violated the terms of their bail. Had Garner not resisted arrest, he would not have to have been taken to the ground to be handcuffed. Garner’s responsibility in his own death were greater than the ‘choke hold’ because everything the law enforcement personnel did was in reaction to Garner’s actions. Everyone is responsible for their own actions would you not agree?
To this the response was “I respect our right to disagree.”
The conversation ended here and it was probably good that it did because I was getting frustrated that someone I have known off and on for 45 years would be willing to condemn someone based on partial information and not be willing to hold people responsible for their own actions is disturbing to me.