Updated at 5 p.m.
Weeks before the shooting death of Michael Brown this August in Ferguson, Missouri, the death of Eric Garner set off its own wave of protests. The father of six died in July while being arrested for selling illegal cigarettes in Staten Island, after a police chokehold rendered him unable to breathe.
On Wednesday, a grand jury decided not to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the plainclothes NYPD officer who was making the arrest.
There are plenty of differences between the cases of Garner and Brown, but one particular contrast remains salient: There was no footage of Michael Brown's death, only eyewitness accounts and conjecture, leaving minds to imagine a standoff between an officer and a civilian, a standoff that ended with the image of Brown lying dead in the street for over four hours.
Garner's death has harrowing digital footprints. His attempted arrest and struggle for air were captured on a widely-disseminated video. His final words were “I can’t breathe.”
In the aftermath of the verdict, many will likely point to the fact that the coroner's report ruled Garner's death a homicide, and that chokeholds are expressly forbidden by the NYPD. As the New York Daily News pointed out, the autopsy also "determined the victim’s asthma, obesity and high blood pressure were also contributing factors in his death." Some will cite the police claims that Garner was resisting arrest. Others are already contending that body cameras for police are not the answer.