Not surprisingly, the preliminary autopsy report in the death of Eric Garner shows, shows that the "deadly encounter Thursday did not damage his windpipe or neck bones."
Why is the not surprising? Because I'm still not convinced there was any chokehold at all. It certainly did not happen when Mr. Garner was taken down. There may have been a chokehold later, but as I have said, and without 100 percent certainly, I don't think there was. But seeing how Garner apparently didn't suffer any damage from a chokehold, can we at least stop saying a chokehold killed him?
The Daily News, which has been the most harsh of all the NYC newspapers, has repeated mentioned "chokehold" as a matter of fact, even though it may not be. "Chokehold" is mentioned around eight times in a webpage that ends with, "Sources told the Daily News that a preliminary report found no signs of neck trauma, such as a crushed windpipe."
There's something very strange about people who are screaming about "police killing a man with an illegal chokehold" who then don't care that there perhaps there wasn't a chokehold. Don't facts matter? Of course it doesn't help that Commissioner Bratton himself has called it a chokehold, which seems to sort of settle the matter, at least in the media.
Of course Garner is dead, so it's fair to ask, "does it matter?" Well, yes. It does. Because (as I've said before) there's a big difference between police killing a man and having a man die of a heart attack in the course of resisting arrest. It matters because the former is a crime and the latter is a tragedy. The guy seems to have died from physical exertion while resisting arrest. Is that the fault of police?
Meanwhile a police officer has been tried in the court of public opinion and found guilty. He very well may be tried in a criminal court -- and then there will be further shock and uproar when he is acquitted.
Except for some of the more extreme cops, who believe everybody resisting police should die, most decent people can agree that something went wrong. A man shouldn't be dead after a minor police encounter over a non-violent crime. That should be a starting point for discussion. But if you start by saying police killed a man -- even if it's not true -- it's hard to have any sort of reasonable or productive discussion.
This ideological anti-police bias is a left-wing lie similar to the right-wing lies I prefer to write about. It's like Larmondo "Flair" Allen, the drug dealer who, according to a right-wing email being sent around, was receiving $13,500 a month in welfare before he was murdered. "An outrage!" people scream while blaming Obama ("Flair" died in 2004). When I corrected this fact -- the real figure would have been more like $550 a month -- most people who so outraged by the $13,500 figure didn't seem to give a damn that it wasn't true. They want to be outraged! Facts be damned! "Well," they say, "maybe those numbers are wrong, but that doesn't change my opinion." Well... then you're a fool. If your opinion is based on beliefs that are not true, shouldn't you perhaps change your opinion? Or at least get your facts right?
Maybe in my next post I'll try and break down the Garner encounter situation and point out various points where something could have been done differently. Choices, had they been taken, where Mr. Garner wouldn't end up dead. Certainly things went wrong; a man is dead. But that doesn't mean the officers on scene killed a man.
[Update: I defer to the medical examiner, who says otherwise.]