Retired NYPD Spokesperson Says ‘We Killed Eric Garner’ In Emotional Post

by : Cameron Frew on :
Retired NYPD Spokesperson Says 'We Killed Eric Garner' In Emotional PostPA Images

A retired New York Police Department spokesperson has said ‘we killed Eric Garner’ in an emotional Instagram post, describing his death as a ‘horrible injustice’. 

Garner, a black man from Staten Island, died in police custody in 2014 after officer Daniel Pantaleo placed him in a chokehold during arrest on suspicion of selling cigarettes without tax stamps. As he lay on the ground, he repeatedly said ‘I can’t breathe’ before losing consciousness. He was pronounced dead in hospital an hour later.


Echoing George Floyd’s words prior to his death in Minneapolis, Garner’s passing is regularly referenced by the Black Lives Matter movement and remains a huge source of controversy. While Pantaleo was never charged, a former spokesperson for the NYPD has chosen to speak out about the incident.

Eric Garner ProtestsPA Images

Michael DeBonis, a former detective who worked under the deputy commissioner for public information, published a lengthy message to his Instagram account discussing Garner’s death and acknowledging the NYPD’s role in how he died.

The post opened with the 40-year-old’s awareness that ‘some of my cop friends may call me a traitor, a hypocrite or even un-follow me’ for writing the post. ‘I’m ok with that because if you don’t agree with what I’m about to say then we definitely don’t see eye to eye when it comes to policing,’ he added.

Eric Garner ProtestsNetflix

DeBonis continued: 

We killed Eric Garner… his arrest was legal, the initial forced used to stop him from resisting was fine, but in the end… WE PUNISHED HIM FOR RESISTING ARREST… WE WATCHED HIM DIE … WE DIDN’T EVEN SIT HIM UP AND RENDER HIM BASIC AID. In the end he DIED for untaxed cigarettes. [sic]

Noting that he didn’t comment on the death at the time, he added: ‘It was a horrible injustice that is forever a part of our history… I’m a hypocrite for saying this now, because I didn’t say it publicly then, but WE ALL need to hold ourselves accountable.’

Michael DeBonis Eric Garner Postm_debonis1/Instagram

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Later in the post, DeBonis praises the work of the NYPD for helping improve East New York, as well as criticising the notion that ‘all cops are bad’. He added: ‘The Police are NOT the enemy… one bad cop doesn’t define who we are or what we have done for this city… WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO HELP THESE COMMUNITIES?’

After attracting media attention and a call from the New York Post, he removed the message from Instagram, telling the publication: ‘It has consumed my life the last few weeks and quite frankly I’m done. Actions speak louder than words anyway.’

Eric Garner ProtestsPA Images

DeBonis joined the NYPD exactly two months before the 9/11 terror attacks. Pantaleo was fired last year for his involvement in Garner’s death, with Commissioner James O’Neill saying he could ‘no longer effectively serve as a New York City police officer’.

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: News, Black Lives Matter, New York Police Department, Now, NYPD, police brutality


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    Retired NYPD spokesman says ‘we killed Eric Garner’ in emotional post