Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) is sticking by his assertion that, had Eric Garner been healthier, he would not have died after a police officer placed him in a chokehold.
"There was no damage to the wind pipe, and no damage to the neck. If he had not been obese, if he had not had diabetes, if he had not asthma, this probably would not have have happened. Nobody intended this to have happened," King said Thursday on Fox News.
Garner's death was ruled a homicide caused by compression to his neck and chest, as well as the way he was positioned on the ground by police officers. His asthma, obesity and hypertensive cardiovascular disease were also contributing factors to his death. A grand jury on Wednesday decided not to indict the officer who placed him in a chokehold, prompting protests across the nation.
"Eleven times he said, 'I can't breathe,'" King acknowledged. "The fact is, if you can't breathe, you can't talk. If you've ever seen somebody arrested, they are always saying you're breaking my arm, you're killing me, I'm dying. If the police officer let him go at that time, the whole thing would have started all over again."
The outspoken New York congressman also denied the notion that race was a factor in the incident, arguing that authorities had ample cause to arrest Garner because he "had become a problem in the neighborhood."
"From my knowledge of the case, there is absolutely no elements of racism here, and there was no intent by the police officer to cause deadly or physical harm to the deceased, Mr. Garner. The senior officer at the scene was an African-American female sergeant. She was there the entire time. Certainly during the time we see in the video," he said.
"Secondly, the reason the police officers came in to make this arrest is because the local business people in the minority community went to police headquarters and said that [Garner] was causing disturbances over the previous several weeks and was driving customers away," King added. "He had become a problem in the neighborhood and the police went in to stop him and he resisted arrest."
Watch King's comments above.