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EMTs Barred from Taking Calls as Staten Island Man's Death Investigated

By  Nicholas Rizzi and Trevor Kapp | July 21, 2014 11:18am 

EMS Workers Barred While Death of Staten Island Man Investigated
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YouTube/Sylon R

TOMPKINSVILLE — The FDNY has barred four EMTs from taking calls after they apparently failed to aid a man who died while being arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes on Staten Island, the New York Post reported.

Police said an NYPD officer has also been stripped of his badge while the death of Eric Garner, 43, is investigated.

Officer Daniel Pantaleo handed in his badge and gun over at the weekend as the city probed Thursday's incident. Video obtained by the Daily News apparently showed Pantaleo putting Garner in a chokehold and wrestling him to the ground.

The video also shows Garner repeatedly telling officers "I can't breathe."

A different seven-minute video posted to YouTube over the weekend shows officers standing around Garner while waiting for medics to arrive.

Eric Garner Died During an Arrest on Staten Island
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New York Daily News

When the ambulance shows up, nobody can be seen giving Garner any aid. 

The EMTs are not fire department employees, but work for Richmond University Medical Center instead, the News said. They are dispatched by the FDNY, according to the Post.

When a person off-camera asks why Garner wasn't being given CPR, an officer says: "Because he's breathing," according to the video.

The two medics and two EMTs on scene were barred from taking any more ambulance calls pending the investigation, the Post reported.

Garner's death prompted Mayor Bill de Blasio to postpone his trip to Italy by a day and launch the investigation.

"I want to offer my deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Eric Garner, a loving husband, father and grandfather," de Blasio said at the press conference on Friday.

At a rally for Garner on Saturday, the Rev. Al Sharpton said the incident will be a "real test" on the de Blasio administration and his promises to change the NYPD.

"There are many crises that we are dealing with but none have impacted more than the recurring problem with the New York City police," Sharpton said, according to the Staten Island Advance.

"This is going to be a real test to see where policies are in the city now."

Sharpton rallied with family and friends of Garner on the streets of Staten Island and announced that the National Action Network will pay for his funeral, set for Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Bethel Baptist Church, Brooklyn, the Advance reported.

Protesters took to City Hall on Monday to call on Commissioner Bill Bratton to resign. They said Garner's death should cause the NYPD to abandon its embrace of the "Broken Windows" theory — which holds that coming down hard on quality-of-life infractions will impact more serious criminal activity.

“The buck stops with the police commissioner. He needs to be held accountable,” said Josmar Trujillo, organizer of New Yorkers Against Bratton.

“This is not an isolated incident. It is a culture of brutality."

On Friday, Bratton said that chokeholds were barred by the NYPD. The Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) announced on Saturday it will do a comprehensive study of chokehold complaints from the past five years.

From 2009 to 2013, the board received 1,022 allegations of chokeholds and will examine recorded interviews with officers, circumstances for the use and the impact on the person choked. It will also study if the department appropriately disciplines officers who have used chokeholds.

“We’re going to make this chokehold study an agency priority," CCRB Executive Director Tracy Catapano-Fox said in a statement.

Of the 1,022 allegations received, 462 were fully investigated and nine were substantiated, according to the CCRB. In 45 percent of instances, the board could not find enough evidence to determine if a chokehold was used or not.