New York City

Comparing the cases of Michael Brown, Eric Garner

December 4, 2014 Associated Press
Photos of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. AP Photo/Brown Family, Garner Family via National Action Network
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The cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City involve an unarmed black man killed by a white police officer in a confrontation over a relatively minor crime. But there are sharp differences, too, in the circumstances of Brown’s Aug. 9 killing and Garner’s July 17 killing.

— Video: No one recorded video of Brown’s fatal encounter with Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Most of Garner’s confrontation with officer Daniel Pantaleo was recorded by a bystander. That video was given to a newspaper and posted online before the killing was even a day old, eliminating most mystery over the facts.

— Why they were stopped: Wilson initially stopped Brown to tell him to stop walking in the street. New York police were trying to arrest Garner on a charge of selling black-market cigarettes.

— Manner of death: Wilson fired 12 shots at Brown after a physical struggle. About half of those hit the teen. Witnesses disagreed on whether Brown was trying to surrender or charging the officer when the fatal shot was fired. Garner died from a compression of his neck and chest as officers were wrestling him to the ground after he refused to be handcuffed.

— Age: Brown was 18. Garner was 43. Brown’s youth may have made him a more sympathetic figure in the eyes of some.

— Size: Garner stood at 6-foot-3 and weighed 350 pounds. Brown was 6-foot-5 and weighed 289 pounds. Their size may have led to a more aggressive police response.

— Reaction: A day after Garner’s death, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called the killing “troubling” and promised an investigation. New York City police Commissioner William Bratton said one of the arresting officers employed an improper chokehold. Public protests were orderly and organized. In Ferguson, angry protests began almost immediately after the shooting. Police acknowledged no wrongdoing and were soon locked in confrontations with sometimes unruly demonstrators.

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