HARLEM — The widow of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man whose death was ruled a homicide after he was placed in a chokehold by police, called Saturday for prosecutors to get "justice" for her husband.
"It's been really hard. I've been trying to be strong but it's really hard," said Esaw Garner at Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network in Harlem.
"I met with the prosecutors and I feel like I did the right thing by doing that and I just want them to do the right thing and get justice for my husband," she added.
The city's medical examiner's office issued a report Friday saying Garner's death was caused by by compression of his neck and compression of his chest while police physically restrained him during an attempted arrest July 18 for allegedly selling loose cigarettes.
A video of the confrontation shows NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo using what appears to be a chokehold to wrestle Garner to the ground. Police officers are banned from using the chokehold.
The video shows Garner, 43, on the ground as he says multiple times: "I can't breathe." Paramedics called to the scene did not administer aid before Garner is picked up by several officers and put onto a stretcher, a second video documented.
Pantaleo was placed on modified duty as were the paramedics.
"I want to thank the God above for giving us justice for my husband so that we can move forward and get this guy," said Esaw Garner.
Garner's mother said she's been having a difficult time since her son died.
"I've just been a mess since all this happened. Couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, wake up screaming: 'Let him go. Give him air,'" Gwen Carr said Saturday.
The medical examiner's ruling brought a small measure of relief.
"When I got the telephone call people thought I was crazy. I just started screaming 'Thank you, Jesus,'" she added.
The family has met with federal prosecutors to demand an investigation.
Garner's chronic asthma, obesity and hypertensive cardiovascular disease also contributed to the death, the medical examiner’s office said.
Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch called for a "complete and thorough analysis of all the factors that played a part in this tragedy," Friday and placed blame on Garner for resisting "the lawful order of the police officers placing him under arrest."
But Sharpton said now that Garner's death has been ruled a homicide, swift action needs to be taken to punish the police officers involved.
"That in and of itself is probable cause for an arrest," Sharpton said at Saturday's rally where he challenged Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan to either arrest Pantaleo or turn the case over to federal prosecutors.
"You cannot have the facts and not address the facts," said Sharpton. "All we are interested in is justice. Don't do us no favors but don't do us any way different than anyone else that probable cause has been established."
Donovan said Friday that the investigation into Garner's death continues while he awaits issuance of the official death certificate.
Sharpton announced an Aug. 23 rally across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge which connects Brooklyn and Staten Island to demand justice for Garner.
Actress and political activist Alfre Woodard also made an appearance and offered support for Garner's family while addressing his death.
"We have to stand together on this issue because it could be any one of us," she said.