Vigil, march for NY man who died in police custody

AP News
Posted: Jul 22, 2014 8:46 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Family, friends and community leaders are holding a vigil and demanding justice for a Staten Island man who died in New York police custody.

They gathered Tuesday night at a park near where police attempted to arrest 43-year-old Eric Garner on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes. They marched several blocks to a police precinct and lit candles in Garner's memory.

Garner's arrest last week was captured on an amateur video that shows an officer apparently putting him in a banned chokehold.

At the vigil, Garner's sister, Ellisha Flagg, said their mother has a "very, very heavy heart." City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said she's determined to make sure Garner's death is fully investigated.

Police say they will revamp training on the use of force.

Garner's funeral is Wednesday.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

The New York Police Department will revamp its training on the use of force amid outrage over the custody death of a man suspected of selling untaxed cigarettes, officials said Tuesday.

Police Commissioner William Bratton said the nation's largest police force will receive additional instruction following the death last week of Eric Garner, who was asthmatic.

"The department needs to do a lot more in terms of training," Bratton said at a news conference.

Garner's arrest last week was captured on a widely distributed amateur video that appears to show an officer putting him in a banned chokehold after he refused to be handcuffed. As several officers take Garner down, he can be heard saying, "I can't breathe. I can't breathe."

Autopsy results are pending in Garner's death, which has sparked protests, a criminal probe and a warning by the Rev. Al Sharpton that Garner's family would explore asking for a federal civil rights investigation. The family was to hold a candlelight vigil Tuesday night on the eve a funeral set for Wednesday.

The death has raised questions about the NYPD's embrace of the "broken windows" theory of policing. Critics say the theory — that low-grade lawlessness such as drinking in public and making graffiti can invite greater disorder including traffic fatalities and violent crime — can needlessly put nonviolent people at risk and fuel tensions in the city's minority communities.

Such enforcement "leads to confrontations like this," City Councilwoman Inez Barron said Tuesday at a news conference about Garner's death. Added City Councilman Andy King: "I don't think it's a necessary police tactic."

Bratton vowed on Tuesday to stick with the program, saying the NYPD plans to next target illegal vendors who rent bikes in Central Park. He credited a similar crackdown on subway fare beaters in the 1990s with being the "tipping point" for a drastic reduction in overall crime in the subway trains.

"There's no change in that focus at all," Bratton said of broken windows. "That's a key part of what we're doing."