New York Rep. Peter King, a Republican, praised the State Island grand jury's decision on Wednesday
King says there's no way the officer who placed Eric Garner in a chokehold could have known it would kill him
While many lawmakers have been denouncing the Staten Island grand jury decision not to indict white police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the July chokehold death of an unarmed black man, Eric Garner, Rep. Peter King, R-New York, has been taking a different approach.
On Wednesday, King tweeted his gratitude to the jury for “doing justice” in their handling of the case.
“Thanks to SI grand jury for doing justice & not yielding to outside pressure,” King tweeted. “Decision must be respected. Compassion for the Garner family. ”
Later, he told Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s “The Situation Room” that he feels “strongly” the police officer should not have been indicted, arguing that there is no way he could have known that Garner’s health conditions would affect his ability to survive the chokehold.
“The police had no reason to know he was in serious condition,” King said. “You had a 350-pound person who was resisting arrest. The police were trying to bring him down as quickly as possible. If he had not had asthma and a heart condition and was so obese, almost definitely he would not have died.”
The New York congressman also suggested that the officers had no reason to stop suppressing Garner, even though he stressed multiple times that he could not breathe.
“People were saying that he said seven times, ‘I can’t breathe.’ But if you can’t breathe, you can’t talk,” King said. “So police hear that all the time.”
King also defended the officer’s decision to use the chokehold as an arrest procedure.
“In this case, a chokehold was not illegal,” King said. “It is against department regulations, but as you look carefully, I don’t think it was an intent to put him in a chokehold, because [the officer] does move the baton as he brings him down.”
King, who grew up in New York, and has represented the state in Congress for nearly 22 years, also claimed no organization has done more to protect young African-Americans in New York City than the New York Police Department.
This is not the first time King has voiced his support for a jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer in the death of an unarmed black man.
Last week, King said that the President should invite Wilson to meet with him at the White House.
“I think it would be very helpful if President Obama went and met with the police officer, or at least invited him to the White House,” King said on Fox Business Network. “And say, ‘you’ve gone through four months of smear and slander and the least we can do is tell you that it is unfortunate that it happened and thank you for doing your job.’”