“#Retired NYPD spokesman says ‘we killed Eric Garner’ in emotional post”
June 13, 2020 | 8:52am
Retired NYPD spokesman Michael DeBonis, left, pictured with former police commissioner James O’Neill.
“We killed Eric Garner,” Michael DeBonis, 40, an ex-detective who worked for the deputy commissioner for public information, posted last week.
But he admitted he said nothing in 2014 following the Staten Island man’s fatal arrest, infamous for Garner’s final, videotaped words, “I can’t breathe.”
“In writing this post I’m fully aware that some of my cop friends may call me a traitor, a hypocrite or even un follow me,” DeBonis wrote.
“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.”
DeBonis said Garner’s bust for peddling untaxed smokes “was legal, the initial forced [sic] 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.”
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.”
Garner was subdued by former cop Daniel Pantaleo, who grabbed him by the neck from behind in a chokehold. The death was ruled a homicide and sparked dozens of demonstrations across the country over police brutality, and it helped fuel the Black Lives Matter movement.
Pantaleo was never charged with a crime but got fired last August.
DeBonis, writing under the handle m_debonis1, also stood up for his work with the NYPD and praised officers for turning around East New York, the once crime-plagued Brooklyn neighborhood, among “thousands of cops working in minority communities.”
He wrote that “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?”
The post was liked by at least 59 people before DeBonis took down his Instagram account after being called by The Post.
DeBonis, who was hired by the NYPD exactly two months prior to the 9/11 terror attacks, declined to discuss his posts.
“It has consumed my life the last few weeks and quite frankly I’m done. Actions speak louder than words anyway,” he said in a text to a Post reporter.
Additional reporting by Stephen Yang
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