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Police Union Denounces Miami Police Chief's Eric Garner Statements

El Nuevo Herald, Miami Herald

Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa weighed in on the deadly encounter between Eric Garner and New York police officers during a television appearance on WPLG's This Week in South Florida.

Orosa said when one of the officers placed Garner in an apparent chokehold, it was improper procedure. He said the grand jury’s recent decision not to indict the officer was a surprise.

“When I saw the video, I thought someone was going to be indicted from that video,” he told show hosts GlennaMilberg and Michael Putney.

The video of Garner's July 17 death quickly went viral online.

On the WPLG program, Orosa also said there were techniques that could have been used to take down Garner such as a tackle or leg sweep.

Less than 24 hours later, Miami police union president Javier Ortiz, who regularly disagrees with Orosa, issued a two page letter to the media defending the officer’s actions in the video and denouncing Orosa’s statements.

“Chief Orosa's statements do not reflect the views of the men and women that work the crime ridden streets within the City of Miami,” he wrote.

Ortiz also called into question the validity of what many believe to be Garner’s last words, “I can’t breathe,” and whether the officer actually placed Garner in a chokehold.

“We also feel that Mr. Garner was not placed in a chokehold,” he wrote. “The fact that he states eleven times that he can't breathe proves he was actually breathing

The union's views are independent of the City of Miami Police Department. 

In his letter, Ortiz goes on to say that if Garner had placed his hands behind him without arguing with officers, he would be alive today.

He also references Garner’s reported medical problems as a possible contributing factor to his death.

“There was no way that a police officer is going to know the medical history of a suspect before applying force,” he wrote. “No one knew at the time that Mr. Garner was suffering from asthma and apparently had cardiac problems."

A few months ago, Ortiz and Miami's Police union also threw their support behind Darren Wilson, the officer who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson.