An officer involved in the fatal arrest of Eric Garner testified Tuesday that he never heard Garner say, “I can’t breathe,” after he was wrestled to the ground and put in a chokehold. NYPD officer Justin D’Amico, testifying on the second day of a history-making judicial inquiry into the handling of the 2014 arrest, told a lawyer for Garner’s mother that he didn’t hear the Staten Island father say the phrase even “once.” In footage taken of the incident, Garner can audibly be heard gasping, “I can’t breathe,” nearly a dozen times.
D’Amico was also questioned about an erroneous charge of felonious tax avoidance applied to Garner after his death. The officer testified that he “may have rushed the paperwork a bit” in accusing Garner, known to be a salesman of loose cigarettes, of a felony that is usually applied to people in possession of at least 10,000 cigarettes, 22,000 cigars, or more than 400 pounds of tobacco. “That was a total mistake,” D’Amico said. “Due to the circumstances, I wasn’t thinking clearly.” He admitted he made another “mistake” in writing down that police officers had used no physical force to arrest Garner. The victim’s mother, Gwen Carr, condemned the proceedings of the judicial hearing on Tuesday as nothing more than “a pack of lies.”