Medics in Deadly Arrest Placed on Desk Duty

NEW YORK (AP) -

Four emergency workers involved in the medical response for a Staten Island man who died in police custody after being put in an apparent chokehold have been barred from responding to 911 calls, officials said.

The two EMTs and two paramedics removed from the city’s emergency response system are the latest public safety workers to face reassignment as questions mount about Thursday’s death of Eric Garner. Two police officers — including the one who put his arm around Garner’s neck — have also been put on desk duty.

Video of the arrest shot by a bystander shows one officer wrap his arm around Garner’s neck as he is taken to the ground — arrested for allegedly selling untaxed, loose cigarettes — while Garner repeatedly shouts, “I can’t breathe!”

The fire department disclosed the medics’ reassignment after a second video surfaced showing at least a half-dozen police officers and emergency workers circling Garner lying on the sidewalk, handcuffed and unresponsive.

Authorities said the father of six likely had a heart attack, but more tests are needed to determine the cause of death.

The restrictions on the medical personnel came a day after the police department said it reassigned Officer Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who used the apparent chokehold on Garner, and another unidentified officer, while prosecutors and internal affairs detectives investigate. Chokeholds are banned under department policy.

The second video shows Garner lying on the sidewalk unresponsive. More than three minutes in, medics arrive, and one checks his pulse. Garner is lifted onto a gurney and transported to a ambulance about two minutes later.

A bystander asks why no one is performing CPR and one officer responds, “because he’s breathing.”