Peter King says Eric Garner would not have died from chokehold were he not 'so obese'

Dylan Stableford

Rep. Peter King defended a New York City grand jury decision not to indict Daniel Pantaleo, a white NYPD officer, in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, during an arrest on Staten Island in July.

"You had a 350-pound person who was resisting arrest," King told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "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, almost definitely he would not have died from this."

"People were saying that he said seven times, 'I can't breathe.' But the fact is, if you can't breathe, you can't talk," King continued. "If you've ever seen anyone resisting arrest, I've seen it, and it's been white guys, and they're always saying, 'You're breaking my arm, you're choking me, you're doing this.' Police hear this all the time."

Garner was known in the community for selling cigarettes, King noted, and the police were responding at the request of local "minority business owners." Once Garner started resisting arrest, officers "had no choice but to try and bring him down."

The Republican congressman also criticized the Rev. Al Sharpton and others lobbying for federal charges in the case.

It's not the first time King, former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, has spoken out in favor of a police officer in a grand jury case.

Last week, King encouraged President Barack Obama to invite Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson to the White House.

"I think it would be very helpful if President Obama went and met with the police officer, or at least invited him to the White House," King said on the Fox Business Network. "And say, 'You've gone through four months of smear and slander, and the least we can do is tell you that it is unfortunate that it happened and thank you for doing your job.'"