RESOURCE: Ableism and the Death of Eric Garner

This is a resource page of people referring to Garner’s health as a justification for his death. I will write this up more fully, but just want to collect material here.

From Mother Jones [update: whole interview here on CNN]

“If he had not had asthma and a heart condition and was so obese, almost definitely he would not have died from this,” [Representative Peter] King said. “The police had no reason to know he was in serious condition.”

Breitbart selectively gives us the “actual facts” in this piece:

It appears that the so-called chokehold was instrumental in triggering
Garner’s pre-existing health problems and causing his death, but Garner
was not choked to death, as the media seems to maintain. According to Garner’s friends,
he “had several health issues: diabetes, sleep apnea, and asthma so
severe that he had to quit his job as a horticulturist for the city’s
parks department. He wheezed when he talked and could not walk a block
without resting, they said.”

Police One is a site in which comments are only supposed to be by proven members of law enforcement. The comments on this article are excellent examples of what I call the Cult of Compliance, but I want to focus on the health issues in this post (h/t to Digby and Ryan Reilly for the initial link):

  • Well damn it, stop resisting so I can handcuff you and roll your fat ass on your side! 
  • The man was yelling “I can’t breathe,” which means you can breathe. I
    would say the compression of weight on the body along with bad health
    caused his death, and the fact that he made a decision to resist. 
  • If you can talk you can breathe. Lets stop making excuses for criminal
    behavior because they are black. This guy would have died going up a
    flight of stairs. His diet killed him. The real victims are these poor
    Officers who’s lives are destroyed because everyone is too afraid to
    speak the truth.  
  • There was a headlock for maybe 8-10 seconds, which ceased as soon as
    the suspect was face down. He was never choked. He died because of his
    preexisting medical conditions, and struggling with police.
  • No beat down at all. Certainly was not a chocke hold, had they used OC
    spray or a Taser maybe the same result! His body was poorly taken care
  • You mean the attempted “Carotid Restraint Hold” that lasted for several
    seconds on “Fatso” the walking heart attack? He killed himself by
    getting so worked up over refusing to follow simple and lawful commands.  
  • My question would be:
    If the subject wasn’t obese, suffer from asthma and be in a generally poor medical condition, would that hold kill him?
    I’d think probably not. The neck compressions were noted, but were they fatal. 
  • Eric Garner is (WAS) 6’4″ and weighed 400 lbs. Instead of suing the
    police department, his family should sue Papa Johns, Dominos, Pizza Hut,
    Burger King, McDonalds, etc…….  
  • If memory serves, the deceadant was a rather large “gentleman” and died of a preexisting coronary condition. 

New York Post’s Bob McManus:

Garner balked. “This ends here,” he shouted — as it turned out,
tragically prophetic words — as he began struggling with the arresting

Again, this was a bad decision. Garner suffered from a range of medical
ailments — advanced diabetes, plus heart disease and asthma so severe
that either malady might have killed him, it was said at the time.

More to come. 

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