Friends: Man in NYC chokehold case 'gentle giant'

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NEW YORK (AP) — The man who died after New York City police apparently put him in a chokehold was a familiar figure on the streets near Staten Island's ferry docks.

To his friends, Eric Garner was a congenial giant with a generous gesture or a calming word. But to police, he was a persistent face of the small-time crime of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.

Some who knew Garner expressed wonder at officers' conduct toward a man friends describe as a neighborhood peacemaker.

Police Commissioner William Bratton has called Garner's death a tragedy, and has noted that investigators will determine whether officers acted appropriately. But Bratton also has said officers "met resistance" in trying to arrest Garner Thursday.

Medical examiners are working to pinpoint the cause of Garner's death.

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