Rand Paul blames Eric Garner's death on high NYC cigarette tax

Sen. Rand Paul blames high cigarette taxes for the death of Eric Garner

Story highlights

  • Sen. Rand Paul blames New York City's high cigarette taxes for Eric Garner's death
  • The unarmed Garner died after white police officers administered a chokehold while trying to arrest him
  • Garner was selling cigarettes on the street illegally when the police officers were confronting him
In 2010, the New York State Legislature passed a law raising taxes on cigarettes purchased in New York City to $5.85 per pack of 20 cigarettes.
Fast-forward four years: A U.S. senator is blaming the politician that created that law for the chokehold death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, by a white police officer in New York City in July 2014.
"I do blame the politician," Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, explained on MSNBC's "Hardball." "We put our police in a dangerous situation with bad laws."
Garner died after a police officer put him in a chokehold while trying to arrest him for selling tax-free cigarettes. The police officers at the time were unaware of Garner's pre-existing health conditions that likely helped lead to his death.
On Wednesday, Paul said Garner's death would have been prevented if the law creating New York City's high cigarette taxes -- the highest in the country -- wasn't created.
"I think it's also important to know that some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes," Paul said. "So they've driven cigarettes underground so as not to make them so expensive."
The likely Republican presidential hopeful continued, "But then some politician also had to direct the police to say, 'Hey, we want you arresting people for selling a loose cigarette.' And for someone to die over you know breaking that law -- there really is no excuse for it."