Hundreds attend funeral for Eric Garner in Brooklyn

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Josh Einiger reports from Boerum Hill. (WABC)

It was a day many never imagined would come so soon. The day friends and family gathered at Bethel Baptist Church to their final goodbyes to Eric Garner.

Wednesday night into the rainy streets of Boerum Hill emerged the casket of 43-year-old Eric Garner.

The casket was followed by his mother and father and countless mourners.

They were overcome with emotion after his jam packed memorial.

The church was filled to the rafters and so hot inside, one woman needed to be carried out.

Hundreds remembered the 43-year-old father of six they say was the victim of excessive force, at the hands of police.

"I love all the support. I just wanted to say that and we're not going to stop fighting, no matter what they say, no matter what they try to do. We just going to keep on," a speaker said in his eulogy.

Garner's last moments alive, chronicled by a cell phone camera, have reverberated around the world.

NOTE: We are unable to post cell phone video showing the incident between the NYPD and Eric Garner due to copyright restrictions.

Over the weekend, Police on Staten Island tried to arrest the 350 pound man for the 32nd time on suspicion of selling cigarettes illegally.

As Garner resisted, one officer appeared to place him in a choke hold.

A few minutes later, he was dead. The mayor and police commissioner have been quick to apologize to his family and the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, has been suspended.

That's not enough for the Reverend Al Sharpton, who spoke at Wednesday night's funeral.

On Friday he plans to take Garner's family to the U.S. Attorney's office to demand a federal civil right investigation.

"At what point do the cries of 'I can't breathe' turn into intent? When he said it 11 times on tape? Is it the second time? Is it the third time? At some point you had to know what you were doing and you had to know that you were violating him," Sharpton said.

Two paramedics and two EMT's have been suspended without pay by Richmond University Medical Center as the hospital conducts its own internal investigation.

"The one who did this to him should ask The Lord for forgiveness for taking someone's life. He didn't deserve this. This was not his time," Estelle Smith said.

There have been several vigils and protests demanding justice at or near the spot where Garner died.

Many are still shaken up by the video and the way police responded to what they say was a man selling illegal cigarettes on the street.

"I thought it was unnecessary. Senseless, reckless and unnecessary," Ivory White said.

At a news conference Tuesday, NYPD Commissioner WIlliam Bratton said the NYPD will conduct a "top to bottom review of all of the training this department provides to its personnel, specifically focusing on force, how do we train our officers for a takedown, how do we train them to use the various levels of force that they're authorized to use."

Bratton also met Tuesday with the FBI, which is now monitoring the investigation into the case.

(Some information from the Associated Press.)
Related Topics:
arresteric garnernypdpolicestaten island newsNew York CityTompkinsvilleBoerum Hill
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