“I Can’t Breathe!”
It is likely that police officers will say they used excessive force on suspects because of the attempt to resist arrest and putting the officers in danger. This could be done by fleeing when arrested, life-threatening remarks, fighting back or using profanity when addressing cops. When suspects demonstrate any of those behaviors, law enforcement now has the permission to control suspects and that is done by using brutal behavior. In the United States, resisting arrest is a criminal charge and police officers have the right to use excessive force on suspects who can’t demonstrate self-control and follow arrest procedures. Typical arrest procedures include asking the name of the suspect, date of birth, where the suspect is from and the suspect’s side of the story. However, if the excessive force is used to control suspects who haven’t demonstrated resisting arrest and causes GBI or great bodily harm (physical injuries) to them, they now have the right to use self-defense against law enforcement.
On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner spoke his final words on a city block in Staten Island, New York “I can’t breathe!” Garner was well known in the area for selling untaxed cigarettes nearby the Staten Island Ferry Terminal and was arrested twice and charged with circumventing state tax law earlier that same year. However, on this specific day police officers Justin Damico and Daniel Pantaleo took it entirely too far as they immediately recognized Garner and attacked before questioning or before Garner could give signs of resisting arrest. Unarmed Garner’s life was taken at the bare hands of white officer Pantaleo as a result of a chokehold that was recorded by multiple people on the streets of Staten Island. While the officer continued to choke Garner who was supposedly “resisting arrest,” many heard his cry for help as the unarmed man yelled “I can’t breathe!” Instead of releasing Garner from the chokehold, Officer Pantaleo and other officers who were at the scene left him handcuffed and motionless on the ground without instantly seeking proper medical attention. Before videos were released of the chaos that took place most people had no idea how Garner’s death took place or if the police were the reason behind it.
In most cases it is common that police officers will claim that they used excessive force as a way of controlling suspects who attempt to resist arrest. After July 17, 2014 cops demonstrated that excessive force is used frequently and is fact abused by some as they resort to using it without suspects showing signs of resisting arrest or having any questionable reasoning. If this remains as an ongoing issue our law enforcement will continue to be viewed negatively and lose the respect of many.
Baker, Al, J. Goodman, and Benjamin Mueller. “Beyond the Chokehold: The Path to Eric Garner’s Death.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 13 June 2015. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.
“Resisting Arrest When Police Use Excessive Force | Nolo.com.” Nolo.com. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.
“What Procedures Must the Police Follow While Making an Arrest? – FindLaw.” Findlaw. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.