Eric Garner was a 400-pound man with several ailments, including asthma, which made it difficult for him to find work. Being a father of six, he had to find other ways to make money, which apparently included selling untaxed cigarettes.
I can’t imagine being able to make much money at all doing something like that in my home state of Georgia. But up in New York, a pack of smokes can cost you $14.50, because the state tobacco tax is $4.35, and New York City’s local tax is $1.60. With taxes like that, they’re pretty much begging for people to resort to creating a cigarette black market.
Nevertheless, Mr. Garner said he wasn’t selling untaxed cigarettes in this particular case. He and others around him say that he had just broken up a fight that took place outside a beauty parlor before police confronted him. Here’s an eyewitness video:
Garner went unconscious and started foaming at the mouth, even though he tried alerting the police six times that he couldn’t breathe. The police assured everyone that he’d be fine, but he was already dead.
In the video, they didn’t even tell him he was under arrest. They just descended on him and started grabbing him, smashing his face into the pavement and then killing him. Even if you believe the cops’ story that he was selling untaxed cigarettes, is that a serious enough charge that warranted killing the guy?