I Can’t Breathe


By Avery Keatley

Last Thursday, in an attempt to arrest Eric Garner, the NYPD put him in a chokehold. In a video capturing the incident, he is in a chokehold as the police tug him to the ground, face down. Garner says, “I can’t breathe,” repeatedly.

No one listens to him.

Garner, as asthmatic, died about an hour later after being taken to the hospital, ABC News reports. Besides the fact that the police used an illegal chokehold, once he is in handcuffs he is clearly struggling to breathe–and no one helps him. One cop, walking in front of the camera, says, “He’s OK.”

According to the autopsy report, Garner died of a heart attack en route to the hospital. Medical examiners are still investigating if the chokehold triggered his chronic asthma. This case is a tragic and startling example of how saying, “I can’t breathe,” is considerably underestimated. Often and unfortunately, this phrase is chalked up to “being winded,” when usually, it means that someone cannot move oxygen in or out of their lungs.

“I can’t breathe,” should not be interpreted as, “I’m complaining.” Maybe if the NYPD knew this, Eric Garner might still be alive.

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