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In NYT's Retelling of Eric Garner's Death, the Officer's Arm Has a Mind of Its Own

New York City Police officer Daniel Pantaleo put Eric Garner in a chokehold while other officers held him down and placed handcuffs on the man who ultimately died from the assault. (Video screengrab)

A piece in the New York Times (12/3/14) about Eric Garner's death included a weird description of the videotaped chokehold  that killed him:

On the videos, Mr. Garner, a 350-pound man who was about to be arrested for illegally selling cigarettes, can be seen first complaining of harassment, then physically resisting arrest by several officers, including Officer Pantaleo, whose arm finds its way around the struggling man’s neck.

It's debatable whether or not you'd refer to Garner as resisting; he's certainly loudly protesting that he'd done nothing wrong, and he does not appear eager to put his hands behind his back to be handcuffed. But that "resistance" lasted a few seconds before he was choked.

The most bizarre part is the idea that police officer Daniel Pantaleo's arm has a mind of its own. It "finds its way" around Garner's neck?

Times reporters J. David Goodman and Michael Wilson presumably used the language they meant to use; just a few paragraphs later:

As the struggle continued, one of Officer Pantaleo's arms moved around Mr. Garner's neck.

Seemingly of its own accord!

And then later, readers are told that "the men toppled to the ground, but the arm around Mr. Garner's neck did not appear to move."

If only Pantaleo had been able to somehow control his own arm, Eric Garner would not have died.

(h/t to Reed Richardson @reedfrich)

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Peter Hart

Peter Hart is the Communications Director at the National Coalition Against Censorship. Previously at the media watchdog group FAIR, Hart is also the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly. (Seven Stories Press, 2003).

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