Activist Erica Garner, whose father’s death helped galvanize an emotional discussion about race and policing, suffered significant brain damage this week after a heart attack, representatives said.
Garner, 27, came to prominence when her father, Eric Garner, died in 2014 after being put in a chokehold by an New York City police officer, an event that touched off protests across the country.
Erica Garner has been in a coma since Saturday, when she suffered a heart attack, according to local news reports and statements posted on Erica’s Twitter account. A CT scan showed that Garner, who is being treated at a hospital in Brooklyn, suffered “major brain damage from a lack of oxygen while in cardiac arrest,” according to a statement posted Wednesday on her verified account.
“Please continue to pray hard for Erica and pray for her family and kids just as much,” the statement said.
Eric Garner died on Staten Island in July 2014, after being put in a chokehold by police officer Daniel Pantaleo. Pantaleo had been in the process of arresting Garner on the suspicion that he was selling loose cigarettes. The video of the encounter traveled around the world as Garner’s last words — “I can’t breathe” — became a rallying cry for advocates of policing reform, as stories and videos about the deaths of black men killed by the police continue to draw wide outrage.
A Staten Island grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo in 2014; the officer remains on modified duty. A Justice Department probe into Garner’s death has yet to conclude.
Erica Garner used her prominence after his death to speak out against police abuse. She endorsed Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders for president and appeared in an campaign advertisement for the senator from Vermont, who posted a statement on Twitter in response to the news about her health.
“My thoughts are with Erica Garner,” he said. “I have had the privileged of joining with her at a number of events and was deeply impressed with her courage and insights.”