‘I Can’t Breathe’ pleas from George Floyd force Esaw Garner to relive own tragedy

Courtesy Photo / American Trial: 'The Eric Garner Story' Eric and Esaw Garner

The three words that still haunt Esaw Garner six years after her husband Eric Garner was killed by a New York Police Department officer rang in her ears again Tuesday night.

“I can’t breathe,” were the words Eric repeated 11 times while Officer Daniel Pantaleo held him around his neck on the sidewalk in a chokehold, which led to his death. This time, the words were coming from another African American man – 46-year-old George Floyd.

“It was like watching my husband die all over again,” Esaw Garner said during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. “It was horrifying.”

Late Tuesday evening, Garner said she watched the video of Floyd for the first time, even after her children asked her not to.

“I chose to look at it and I [cried],” Garner said. “I came downstairs and my sons asked me, ‘What did you watch that for?’” Her message for Floyd’s family is simple: prepare yourself.

“Prepare yourself for the long haul,” she said. “Prepare yourself mentally and physically. Prepare yourself for all the people who say they are going to be there and are not there.”

Since her husband’s death, which Pantaleo never went to trial for because the grand jury decided not to indict him, Garner said the way police officers treat Black people has not improved in the slightest. Floyd’s death is more proof of that.

“[The police] don’t care,” she said. “They have no regard. They think they can do what they want to do because they have that badge. It’s gotten worse. It’s a bunch of bullshit. They need to be held accountable for their actions.”