(CNN) — Confronted by police trying to arrest him for allegedly selling illegal cigarettes, Eric Garner raised both hands in the air and, with passive defiance, told the officers not to touch him. Seconds later, the officer behind him grabbed the 350-pound man in a chokehold and pulled him to the sidewalk, rolling him onto his stomach.
“I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” Garner said repeatedly, his cries muffled into the pavement.
A video of the Thursday skirmish shows the Staten Island man lying on the ground motionless after the incident. An asthmatic, Garner was later declared dead at a nearby hospital, according to CNN affiliate WCBS. Police said he suffered a heart attack and died en route to the hospital.
“This is a terrible tragedy that occurred yesterday. A terrible tragedy that no family should have to experience,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, calling the video of the incident “very troubling.”
Police told WCBS that 43-year-old Garner, a father of six, had a lengthy criminal history and had been previously arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes in May.
On Saturday, Garner’s friends and family rallied alongside Rev. Al Sharpton in Upper Manhattan, demanding a full investigation into Garner’s death, according to WCBS.
Garner’s wife was set to speak at the rally but found herself too emotional, WCBS reports.
The same day, both officers involved in the arrest, including Daniel Pantaleo — who is seen on video choking Garner — were stripped of their shields and guns, as the New York Police Department continues to investigate the incident.
The chokehold tactic is prohibited by the NYPD.