Ben Carr, the stepfather of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man who was killed by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, died this weekend after suffering a heart attack, while attending the wedding of Lisha Garner, Eric Garner’s sister.
The death of Carr comes just 19 months after Eric Garner’s daughter, Erica, died from the same cause. Garner’s stepfather and family members had traveled to Jamaica to attend the wedding of Garner’s sister, according to a source close to family matriarch Gwen Carr.
The fifth anniversary of Garner’s fatal encounter with police was just 11 days ago. The Department of Justice, William Barr and federal prosecutors decided no charges would be brought against NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who placed Garner in a forbidden chokehold. On July 17, cops claim that Garner was selling loose cigarettes outside of a beauty supply store in Tompkinsville, Staten Island. Justin Damico and Daniel Pantaleo, responding to a disturbance call, approached Garner. In his defense, Garner denied his partaking in any disruption and asked the officers to leave him alone. Reports state that as Garner was walking away, Pantaleo and Damico both attempted to place him under arrest. In this encounter, Panteleo used a forbidden chokehold to restrain Garner, ultimately leading to his demise.
Garner’s last words of “I can’t breathe” ignited protests from East to West Coast and put the “Black Lives Matter” movement in the mainstream. In support of Garner’s family have been athletes, musicians and other known celebrities of the African-American community such as LeBron James, David Oyelowo and Jay-Z. In 2014, several individuals showed their support by wearing the “I can’t breathe” t-shirts, an iconic gesture in the fight for civil rights and the betterment of African-Americans and people of color.
Garner’s death was ruled a homicide by the New York Medical Examiner’s office and even confirmed by an independent autopsy done by Michael Baden, a former New York medical examiner, who noticed hemorrhaging around Garner’s neck, confirming he was choked. James O’Neill, NYPD commissioner, has yet to make a departmental decision against Pantaleo, who remains on the police payroll awaiting the outcome of the case. O’Neill is the only person who has the final say in the decision of whether to fire or retain Pantaleo.
On Tuesday, July 30, 2019, Garner’s family, alongside activists Shaun King, Ashely Sharpton and Ilyasah Shabazz, had a “Remembering Eric Garner; This Stops Now!” panel discussion at Canaan Baptist church in Harlem, discussing the issue of police brutality across the country. The panel, hosted annually in remembrance of Garner, had hot topics such as the Justice’s Department decision not to file charges against Pantaleo. A petition to fire Panteleo has started.
“We’re here standing for justice. This is just one of the many events that are bound to come. And we will continue to have events, protests, and we will continue to call for the firing of officer Panteleo,” said Emerald Snipes-Garner, daughter of Eric Garner.
The Rev. Al Sharpton took to Instagram to send his condolences to the family. “I’m deeply saddened beyond words. Pray for Gwen and the Carr/Garner family,” he wrote.
As of press time there were no formal statements or funeral arrangements made public.