“Get away [garbled] … for what? Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today. Why would you…? Everyone standing here will tell you I didn’t do nothing. I did not sell nothing. Because every time you see me, you want to harass me. You want to stop me [garbled] Selling cigarettes? I’m minding my business, officer, I’m minding my business. Please just leave me alone. I told you the last time, please just leave me alone. Please, please, don’t touch me. Do not touch me.”
At that point he was placed in an officially banned choke-hold by a police officer. In his very last words, gasping for air, Eric Garner repeated the following: “I can't breathe.”
How did we as a society arrive at the point where an incident like this can transpire? A man breaks up a fight, gets accused of a spurious crime, and then ends up dead at the hands of a police officer who had repeatedly been accused of misconduct in the past. That this ever happened at all is a tragedy; that it's an incident which most wouldn't find particularly surprising... is a dystopian nightmare.