The NAACP hosted a meeting on Staten Island Thursday to discuss Eric Garner's death, and people at the meeting said all of the police officers involved in the incident need to be held accountable, even those who were just bystanders. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.
Emotions ran high at a town hall meeting Thursday.
Taking the life of Eric Garner was the topic of the event organized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
"I don't know why they attacked him," said Edward C. Josey, president of the Staten Island NAACP. "I can say racial profiling."
Police say they tried to arrest Eric Garner last month because he was selling loose cigarettes. It was caught on tape, including the banned chokehold used by an officer. Garner died, and the medical examiner's office ruled it a homicide.
"It's something that in America, it needs to stop," said one person who attended the meeting.
"Saying that he can't breathe, 'I can't breathe, I can't breathe, I can't breathe,' and for him to be ignored as if he's a nobody or less than a human being and just left there to die, I think is wrong," said another person.
Seventy to 100 people came to hear from criminal justice experts, including the Legal Aid Society, a former police officer, an ex-corrections captain and a retired judge from the New York State Division of Human Rights. Many, though, came for personal reasons.
"To see how I can go about what happened with my son," said one woman who said her son was assaulted by police.
"Now, they have direction and guidance on how to address any type of police misconduct," said retired judge Ronald Gregg. "They have the contact people, and they have a direction that we hope to take them in."
Many also had questions about how to handle a confrontation with police. The experts said police do have authority over you and you must submit to it. They said if you have a problem, get a badge number and report the problem later.