The wife of a New York City man who died after a police officer used an apparent chokehold was overcome with grief at a rally in his honor Saturday.
Esaw Garner, 46, burst into tears and was escorted from a rally for her husband, Eric Garner, 43, at the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network headquarters in Harlem.
"This is going to be a real test to see where policies are in the city now and whether the change that we feel occurred has occurred," Sharpton said at the Saturday rally that drew hundreds of people.
Garner's death on Friday has prompted an investigation by the Staten Island District Attorney's office and caused Mayor Bill de Blasio to postpone a vacation while he talks with community leaders.
A passer-by captured the interaction between Eric Garner and police on video, and the tape shows Garner saying at least eight times "I can't breathe" as police appear to push his head into the ground. Garner, an asthmatic who weighed between 350 and 400 pounds, later died.
On Saturday, Sharpton referred to promises by the mayor and Police Commissioner William Bratton to improve the relationship between officers and the city's minority communities.
"We are the only ones in the social setup that has to deal with fear of cops and robbers," Sharpton said.
The mayor's community affairs representative attended the rally, where he reaffirmed the city's commitment to strengthening police and community relations.
"We've said from the beginning: Police work best when they have the respect from the community," Community Affairs Commissioner Marco Carrion said.
Police said Garner was resisting arrest and they suspected him of attempting to sell untaxed cigarettes. Witnesses told the Staten Island Advance that he'd just broken up a fight.
At a press conference on Friday, de Blasio called the death of Garner, a married father of six and grandfather of two, "a terrible tragedy."
"Chokeholds are prohibited by the New York City Police Department and by most departments," Bratton said Friday.
Along with the district attorney, police internal affairs also will investigate, Bratton and de Blasio said.
In the videotape, Garner is seen standing on a sidewalk in front of a store as two undercover officers appear to question him.
"Every time you see me, you're messing with me — I'm tired of it," Garner says. "I'm minding my business officer, I'm minding my business. Please just leave me alone."
The conversation continues until Garner says, "Don't touch me," at which point an officer behind Garner appears to put him in a chokehold. Garner sinks quickly to the ground and four officers are on him, subduing him.
Garner says "I can't breathe" at least eight times as an officer appears to mash his head into the sidewalk.
Contributing: The Associated Press