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Autopsy: Police chokehold caused NYC man’s death

  • FILE- In this undated family file photo provided by the National Action Network, Saturday, July 19, 2014, Eric Garner, right, poses with his children during a family outing. On Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, the New York City medical examiner announced that the chokehold used on Garner by a white police officer caused his death. The death was ruled a homicide. (AP Photo/Family photo via National Action Network, File)

    FILE- In this undated family file photo provided by the National Action Network, Saturday, July 19, 2014, Eric Garner, right, poses with his children during a family outing. On Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, the New York City medical examiner announced that the chokehold used on Garner by a white police officer caused his death. The death was ruled a homicide. (AP Photo/Family photo via National Action Network, File)

  • Doug Phaneuf hands a newspaper to a pedestrian while offering information to passers-by about a rally for Eric Garner, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, in the Staten Island borough of New York. Garner died after he was put in a chokehold while being arrested last month for selling untaxed loose cigarettes. On Friday, the medical examiner ruled Garner's death to be a homicide caused by a police chokehold. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

    Doug Phaneuf hands a newspaper to a pedestrian while offering information to passers-by about a rally for Eric Garner, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, in the Staten Island borough of New York. Garner died after he was put in a chokehold while being arrested last month for selling untaxed loose cigarettes. On Friday, the medical examiner ruled Garner's death to be a homicide caused by a police chokehold. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

  • A young boy stops as he passes a makeshift memorial for Eric Garner, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, in the Staten Island borough of New York. Garner was put in a chokehold while being arrested at the site last month for selling untaxed loose cigarettes. On Friday, the medical examiner ruled Garner's death to be a homicide caused by a police chokehold. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

    A young boy stops as he passes a makeshift memorial for Eric Garner, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, in the Staten Island borough of New York. Garner was put in a chokehold while being arrested at the site last month for selling untaxed loose cigarettes. On Friday, the medical examiner ruled Garner's death to be a homicide caused by a police chokehold. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

  • Candles, flowers, stuffed animals and cigarettes lay at a makeshift memorial for Eric Garner, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, in the Staten Island borough of New York. Garner died after he was put in a chokehold while being arrested last month for selling untaxed loose cigarettes. On Friday, the medical examiner ruled Garner's death to be a homicide caused by a police chokehold. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

    Candles, flowers, stuffed animals and cigarettes lay at a makeshift memorial for Eric Garner, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, in the Staten Island borough of New York. Garner died after he was put in a chokehold while being arrested last month for selling untaxed loose cigarettes. On Friday, the medical examiner ruled Garner's death to be a homicide caused by a police chokehold. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

  • A passer-by stops to take a photo of a makeshift memorial for Eric Garner, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, in the Staten Island borough of New York. Garner died after he was put in a chokehold while being arrested at the site last month for selling untaxed loose cigarettes. On Friday, the medical examiner ruled Garner's death to be a homicide caused by a police chokehold. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

    A passer-by stops to take a photo of a makeshift memorial for Eric Garner, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, in the Staten Island borough of New York. Garner died after he was put in a chokehold while being arrested at the site last month for selling untaxed loose cigarettes. On Friday, the medical examiner ruled Garner's death to be a homicide caused by a police chokehold. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

  • FILE- In this undated family file photo provided by the National Action Network, Saturday, July 19, 2014, Eric Garner is shown. Garner’s death was ruled a homicide by the New York City medical examiner after it was determined that a choke hold police used while trying to arrest him in July 2014, caused his death. (AP Photo/Family photo via National Action Network, File)

    FILE- In this undated family file photo provided by the National Action Network, Saturday, July 19, 2014, Eric Garner is shown. Garner’s death was ruled a homicide by the New York City medical examiner after it was determined that a choke hold police used while trying to arrest him in July 2014, caused his death. (AP Photo/Family photo via National Action Network, File)

  • FILE- In this undated family file photo provided by the National Action Network, Saturday, July 19, 2014, Eric Garner, right, poses with his children during a family outing. On Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, the New York City medical examiner announced that the chokehold used on Garner by a white police officer caused his death. The death was ruled a homicide. (AP Photo/Family photo via National Action Network, File)
  • Doug Phaneuf hands a newspaper to a pedestrian while offering information to passers-by about a rally for Eric Garner, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, in the Staten Island borough of New York. Garner died after he was put in a chokehold while being arrested last month for selling untaxed loose cigarettes. On Friday, the medical examiner ruled Garner's death to be a homicide caused by a police chokehold. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
  • A young boy stops as he passes a makeshift memorial for Eric Garner, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, in the Staten Island borough of New York. Garner was put in a chokehold while being arrested at the site last month for selling untaxed loose cigarettes. On Friday, the medical examiner ruled Garner's death to be a homicide caused by a police chokehold. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
  • Candles, flowers, stuffed animals and cigarettes lay at a makeshift memorial for Eric Garner, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, in the Staten Island borough of New York. Garner died after he was put in a chokehold while being arrested last month for selling untaxed loose cigarettes. On Friday, the medical examiner ruled Garner's death to be a homicide caused by a police chokehold. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
  • A passer-by stops to take a photo of a makeshift memorial for Eric Garner, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, in the Staten Island borough of New York. Garner died after he was put in a chokehold while being arrested at the site last month for selling untaxed loose cigarettes. On Friday, the medical examiner ruled Garner's death to be a homicide caused by a police chokehold. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
  • FILE- In this undated family file photo provided by the National Action Network, Saturday, July 19, 2014, Eric Garner is shown. Garner’s death was ruled a homicide by the New York City medical examiner after it was determined that a choke hold police used while trying to arrest him in July 2014, caused his death. (AP Photo/Family photo via National Action Network, File)

A medical examiner ruled yesterday that a police officer’s chokehold caused the death of a man whose videotaped arrest and final pleas of “I can’t breathe!” sparked outrage and led to the overhaul of use-of-force training for the nation’s largest police department.

Eric Garner, a black man whose confrontation with a white police officer has prompted calls by the Rev. Al Sharpton for federal prosecution, was killed by neck compressions from the chokehold and “the compression of his chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police,” city medical examiner spokeswoman Julie Bolcer said.

Asthma, heart disease and obesity were contributing factors in the death of the 43-year-old Garner, a 6-foot-3, 350-pound father of six, she said.

The finding increases the likelihood that the case will be presented to a grand jury to determine whether Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who placed Garner in the chokehold, or any other officers involved in the confrontation will face criminal charges. Pantaleo’s attorney, Stuart London, declined to comment.

Garner’s wife, Esaw Garner, told the Daily News, “Thank God the truth is finally out.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio extended his sympathies to Garner’s family in a statement and pledged to continue repairing the relationship between minority communities and the New York Police Department.

“I’ve said that we would make change, and we will,” he said.

Chokeholds are prohibited by the NYPD, but partial video of the July 17 confrontation shows an officer placing a chokehold on Garner, who was being arrested on suspicion of selling untaxed, loose cigarettes. Garner then apparently loses consciousness.

Word of the medical examiner’s ruling spread yesterday among passers-by on the Staten Island street where the police confronted Garner and where candles from a makeshift memorial flicker. Garner’s neighbor Charlene Thomas said the officers involved must be punished.

“They killed somebody,” Thomas said. “Why, because they’re cops, they gotta get away with this?”

A spokesman for Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan said prosecutors were still investigating the death and awaited a full autopsy report and death certificate from the medical examiner. Donovan will have to determine whether to empanel a grand jury and charge officers in Garner’s death.

Federal officials are monitoring the investigation, a Department of Justice spokeswoman said, adding that the department has not begun its own inquiry.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said officials were aware of the medical examiner’s findings and the department is cooperating with prosecutors. He has said the NYPD’s use-of-force training is lacking and has pledged to retrain all 35,000 officers.

Pantaleo was stripped of his gun and badge pending the investigation, and another officer was placed on desk duty.

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