Wall Street Journal
September 20, 2014

Private Medical Examiner Reveals Early Findings on Eric Garner Death


Peter J. Smith for The Wall Street Journal  
Former city medical examiner Michael Baden on Friday. 

Peter J. Smith for The Wall Street Journal  
PBA President Patrick Lynch on Friday.  

A private medical examiner hired to analyze the autopsy report of a man who died after being placed in an apparent chokehold by a police officer said his most “severe finding was compression of the neck.”

Dr. Michael Baden’s preliminary review—he will spend a week with the information before issuing a final report—found “nothing inconsistent” with the autopsy already performed by the city’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Dr. Baden spent about two hours Friday reviewing slides, portions of organs, photographs, X-rays and the city medical examiner’s final report of Eric Garner’s death.

The medical examiner ruled in August that Mr. Garner died in part due to a chokehold applied by a New York Police Department officer who was trying to arrest him.

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the union that represents NYPD officers, has called those findings political because the death certificate used the word “choke hold” as a cause of death.

Dr. Baden said Friday that, based on his review, he “didn’t see any politics involved in it.”

PBA President Patrick Lynch on Friday said the union’s own lawyers and medical examiners were waiting to review the results and come to their own conclusion.

Mr. Lynch said the results weren’t consistent with a chokehold, but two factors: the legal “takedown of a person who was resisting arrest” and lifesaving skills performed by medics and doctors.

Dr. Baden, who briefly served as city’s chief medical examiner, said “there’s a hemorrhage in the neck indicative of neck compression.” He will determine if there are “any other conclusions that can be made.”

Dr. Baden was hired by the attorneys representing Mr. Garner’s family to review the autopsy results.

Dr. Baden said the autopsy shows Mr. Garner had an enlarged heart, good coronary arteries and evidence of asthma.

“He was overweight and obese. He had some health problems that need to also be taken into account,” he said.

Police were attempting to arrest Mr. Garner, 43 years old, for selling untaxed cigarettes outside a Staten Island bodega.

Write to Pervaiz Shallwani at pervaiz.shallwani@wsj.com