The Rev. Al Sharpton Wants Justice in Choke Hold Death

Four New York City emergency workers have been put on modified duty after video footage shows questionable response time in handling 43-year-old father Eric Garner, who died while in police custody. 

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The Rev. Al Sharpton, seen here at a press conference at the National Action Network's office in April 2014, has spoken out about the choke hold death of Eric Garner. 

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Four New York City emergency workers who responded to a 911 call after police apparently choked a man—who later died while in police custody—have been put on "modified" duty, the Associated Press reports.

According to the Fire Department of New York, two EMTs and two paramedics have been barred from responding to 911 calls after video footage revealed what many have criticized as a lax effort in attempts to save the life of Eric Garner, who was apparently choked by police during his arrest Thursday.

Police suspected Garner had been selling untaxed cigarettes when they approached the 43-year-old Staten Island, N.Y., father of six. Garner told police that he didn't do anything and asked to be left alone. When cops attempted to place handcuffs on Garner, a struggle ensued and Garner was apparently choked by one of the officers, authorities said. Garner can be heard on the video footage saying repeatedly, "I can't breathe."  

The New York City Police Department noted Saturday that two of the four officers involved in Garner's arrest have been demoted to desk duty pending an investigation, and one has lost his gun and badge, AP notes.

On Sunday the Rev. Al Sharpton told worshippers at Riverside Church in Manhattan that he was appalled at the way police handled the situation.  

"None of them said, 'Let's stop. He can't breathe,' " the activist told the churchgoers, the New York Daily News notes. "Even if police procedures don't kick in, when does your sense of humanity kick in? Have we gotten so cold?"

The Daily News notes that Sharpton compared Garner's death to the death of Ernest Sayon, a 23-year-old Staten Island man who died from a head injury after a struggle with NYPD officers in 1994.

"There's a lot different 20 years later," Sharpton told the congregation, the Daily News reports. "There is video this time."

Sharpton also noted that New York leaders Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton have to address the community's anger over Garner's death.

Read more at the Associated Press and New York Daily News.