Eric Garner’s daughter has heart attack without being “choked” or tackled

Thursday, December 28th, 2017

How should the police handle a large man who won’t comply? That’s what I asked when Eric Garner, a large man indeed, refused to comply with NYPD officers, got taken down with a headlock, and ended up under a dogpile — where he had a heart attack and died. This was described as an unarmed black man being choked to death.

Now his daughter, Erica Garner, has suffered her own second heart attack, severe enough to cause brain damage, without being “choked” or tackled. It’s pretty clear that there’s a family history of heart disease.

I still don’t know how the police should handle a large man who won’t comply, especially if he’s at risk of a heart attack.


  1. Slovenian Guest says:

    Here is Think Like a Cop going over the Garner incident.

  2. Handle says:

    I’ll repeat my crazy proposal: go after the phones.

    “Comply, or I’ll remotely brick your device, to be unlocked only if and when you pay the fine.”

    Nobody wants to go without a phone these days, not even scofflaws selling loosies; it’s very low status in addition to making life more frustrating.

    The general idea is you need a proportionate and effective incentive that doesn’t involve any violence or contact to motivate fragile people. Fortunately, almost everyone is carrying one.

  3. Isegoria says:

    I like how you think, Handle, but I’m not sure the “new phone who dis” crowd would be cowed by a threat to brick their burner phone.

  4. Handle says:

    It all depends on how far one is willing to take it.

    For example, what if it works like revoking a driver’s license, or the “no fly list”, and phone usage is tied to real identities, and you just can’t get any phones to work for you at all with a block on your name.

    It’s all about being able to snatch something away from people that they really care about, without violence or even contact.

    That requires the police officer to be able to walk up to an individual suspected of misconduct and not complying with requets to:

    1. Immediately be able to establish real identity, maybe by a combination of visual biometric recognition and remotely and digitally interrogating mobile electronic devices.

    2. Being able to impose immediate consequences that effectively prevent — or dramatically raise the cost or frustration level — that real identity from using some object or enjoying some activity they deem to be extremely important, but which isn’t considered an essential, e.g., turning off the water or heat.

    For most people or poor suspected criminals, I think that’s being able to drive a car and being able to use a mobile phone.

    “Hey buddy, let’s see here… Eric Garner it says here…. I’m gonna need you to cooperate with me now, or you’ll never text or drive or fly legally in this country again until you pay the fine of 500 bucks.”

    We have the technology. It’s a question of will.

  5. Adar says:

    Evaluate the situation carefully first. Determine if what is gained is greater than what might be lost. Minor infractions for a big strong black man — or any other man, for that matter — just let it all pass and go about your business. Debits outweigh the possible good.

  6. Graham says:

    I see the immediate merits of Handle’s scheme but would be balls-out terrified, and not a little outraged, if that level of police information-access and ability to control my digital life were ever deployed against me for some minor infraction.

    I start to wonder if we’ve passed the point at which society is prepared to treat people differently according to behavioral and acquired status markers, not to mention using more severe punishments as consequences for certain kinds of disorder, resulting in the need for a more intrusive authoritarianism for all.

    One of the many downsides of an egalitarian mindset.

  7. TWS says:

    We were warned in the academy about putting big guys who were resisting on their chests while cuffed. Even young fit guys sometimes go into cardiac arrest.

    The N.Y. guys might not have heard about it. Thirty years ago nobody could give a reason why it might happen, just that it did.

    It might just be a risk a big guy has to take if he’s going to act the ass and resist. Certainly he’d have lived longer if he hadn’t resisted. But given his daughter’s health he might have died in lock up waiting to get arraigned.

  8. Gaikokumaniakku says:

    The problem is not that one muscular but surprisingly fragile man had a heart attack. The problem is not that his daughter had a heart attack.

    The problem is that 80% of the USA believes that it has been unjustly consigned to lifelong poverty and degradation. A few dead people are just a symbol to encapsulate that rage.

    Even if you could prove that the police of the USA have the most enlightened policy to protect suspects who are susceptible to heart attack, the disenfranchised 80% would still find another symbol for its rage.

    “Comply, or I’ll remotely brick your device, to be unlocked only if and when you pay the fine.”

    That would be a propaganda coup for the Chinese Communist Party. “You see, Little Zhao, the evil Yankees hold suspects incommunicado even before they have been convicted of a crime!”

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