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Family marks chokehold victim Eric Garner's birthday

Esaw Garner, wife of chokehold victim Eric Garner,

Esaw Garner, wife of chokehold victim Eric Garner, speaks about her husband and his 44th birthday with other family members and the Rev. Al Sharpton at the National Action Network in Harlem Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014. Credit: Craig Ruttle

Loved ones of NYPD chokehold victim Eric Garner Saturday commemorated what would have been his 44th birthday.

"At this time last year, we . . . [were] sitting down at Applebee's eating dinner for his birthday, and now this year, all I can do is talk to the sky and hope that he hears me," said a weeping Esaw Garner, his wife, at the Rev. Al Sharpton's storefront pulpit in Harlem.

Gwen Carr recalled going into labor with Eric Garner, her firstborn, on Sept. 15, 1970: "This was a good pain that I was feeling at that time . . . Now today I'm feeling another pain: My son, he's no longer with me, and I feel this every day. Every day I die a little more because he's not coming back, and I know he's not."

The family planned to honor his memory later in the day with a party and barbecue in the Tompkinsville neighborhood of Staten Island.

Garner died July 17 of what the city medical examiner said was homicide caused by a banned chokehold, which occurred during an arrest that police said was for untaxed cigarettes. Staten Island's top prosecutor, Dan Donovan, plans to convene a grand jury to weigh criminal charges over Garner's death.

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