Peter King Says Eric Garner's Obesity Contributed to His Death

It's another inflammatory remark from the New York congressman.

Representative Peter King, a Republican from New York, speaks to the media following a closed-door briefing with David Petraeus, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Nov. 16, 2012.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Representative Peter King lit up social media on Wednesday when he said Eric Garner may not have died following a police chokehold if he had not been “so obese.” 

“I feel strongly that police officer should not have been indicted,” said the New York Republican on CNN. “I've been following this case from the start. You had a 350-pound person who was resisting arrest. The police were trying to bring him down as quickly as possible. If he had not had asthma and a heart condition and was so obese, he almost definitely would not have died from this.”

“The police had no reason to know that he was in serious condition,” King added.

His comments came hours after a grand jury declined to charge Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Garner, 43, whose fatal altercation with police happened after he was stopped on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes. The incident was captured on video, and the grand jury's decision has provoked widespread, bipartisan outrage.

King, who has toyed with the notion of running for president, is no stranger to strong opinions. Throughout his 21 years in the House of Representatives, King has shown he's unafraid of ruffling the feathers, even within his own party. In one of his most notable moments, the 70-year-old urged his Long Island constituents not to contribute to the National Republican Congressional Committee when Speaker John Boehner adjourned the 112th Congress without voting on a spending bill that would provide disaster aid to areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. King said it was a “cruel knife in the back” to New York and New Jersey.

Here are some of King's other memorable eruptions:

  • On the New York Times editorial board referring to NSA leaker Edward Snowden as a “whistleblower”: “They’re a disgrace. Their editors are a disgrace, and I wish they cared more about America than they did about the rights of terrorists’ appeasers.” (Jan. 2, 2014)
  • “There's no way, I don't think, any of us can excuse what the president did yesterday. I mean, you have the whole world watching when you have a week or two weeks of anticipation of what the United States is going to do. And then for him to walk out—I'm not trying to be trivial here—in a light tan suit…” (Aug. 29, 2014)
  • “Unfortunately, we have too many mosques in this country, there's too many people who are sympathetic to radical Islam.” (Sept. 19, 2007)
  • On Democrats' proposal to pay for a health care bill for Ground Zero workers with a tax on foreign-registered firms with U.S. operations: “This is total moral cowardice on the part of the Democrats. ... Democrats are afraid of a tough vote, and they'd rather let cops and firefighters die.” (July 28, 2010)
  • On Senator Ted Cruz: “This guy is bad for the party.” King has also referred to the Texas Republican as a “fraud,” a “con man” and a “nihilist” who is taking the party down a “dead-end street.” (Sept. 20, 2013)