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updated: 7/21/2014 10:12 AM

More studies needed in apparent chokehold death

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  • A memorial for Eric Garner on the pavement near the site of his death Saturday in the Staten Island borough of New York.

      A memorial for Eric Garner on the pavement near the site of his death Saturday in the Staten Island borough of New York.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The medical examiner's office has not yet determined what caused the death of a New York City man who appeared to be held in a chokehold as police attempted to arrest him.

"The cause and manner of death are pending further studies, and no findings will be released until the investigation is complete," the city's medical examiner's office said a statement released Sunday said.

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It was not clear when the medical examiner might issue its findings. A spokeswoman for the office declined to comment further on Monday.

Meanwhile, the fire department has barred four emergency workers from responding to 911 calls. They are employees of the Staten Island hospital where Garner was pronounced dead on Thursday. The medics' restricted duties will remain in effect pending an investigation into their actions, fire department spokesman James Long said Sunday.

Video of the arrest shot by a bystander shows one officer wrap his arm around Garner's neck as he is taken to the ground -- arrested for allegedly selling untaxed, loose cigarettes -- while Garner shouts, "I can't breathe!"

The fire department disclosed the medics' reassignment after a second video surfaced showing some half-dozen police officers and emergency workers circling a man who appears to be Garner lying on the sidewalk, handcuffed and unresponsive.

Long said modifying the emergency workers' duties -- which includes a notice in their state health department file that they are not to respond to medical calls -- is department protocol when questions arise about a medical response and was not a reaction to the post-arrest video.

A spokeswoman for the Richmond County Medical Center, where the medics work, did not immediately respond to messages.

The restrictions on the medical personnel came a day after the police department said it reassigned Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who used the apparent chokehold on Garner, and another unidentified officer while prosecutors and internal affairs detectives investigate. Chokeholds are banned under department policy.

The department said it stripped Pantaleo, an eight-year veteran of the force, of his gun and badge.

Court records show that within the past two years, three men sued Pantaleo in federal court over allegedly unlawful, racially motivated arrests. Pantaleo did not return a telephone message.

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