I would like to thank the community for the nonviolent demonstrations since the Richmond County grand jury decision in Eric Garner's death ["Speaking out in DC and NYC," News, Dec. 14].
Some may disagree, but the men and women of the New York City Police Department have done a great job preventing violence by being professional and showing restraint. Besides them, I want to thank the elected officials, religious leaders and real community activists -- who truly do care about their communities and all the people of our city -- as well as Eric Garner's mother for asking and persuading people to be nonviolent.
Gary Gorman, Bay Ridge
Editor's note: The writer is a retired officer with the NYPD.
During my 77 years on this Earth, I was a police officer for 24. I know some things for certain.
Michael Brown and Eric Garner contributed to their own demise because they acted in confrontational manners. Had they cooperated and obeyed the police, they would still be alive but facing criminal charges because of crimes they committed before their arrests.
The greatest amount of responsibility for the turmoil that followed their deaths can be placed on the liberal news media, which never presented the facts that were known at the time. Instead, the media reported the same inflammatory rhetoric every day: An unarmed black man killed by a white cop.
This provided a platform for self-serving Democrats, bleeding hearts and thugs. Probably nowhere this year was the reading public informed of the several white police officers across the country who were killed on duty by black assailants. The noisy wheel gets all the grease.
Robert Misegades, West Islip
The events in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island are very different, and in some regards Newsday's editorial served to obscure this ["Reform handling of killings by cops," Dec. 11].
A grand jury is a body of citizens responsible for discovering and examining facts, and applying the law to determine the existence of a crime. The proceeding is a predicate to a trial. There is no cross-examination or advocacy for the potential defendant. The target of the investigation can speak but bears some risk in doing so, because any unfavorable facts, statements or inferences are binding.
As a lawyer and retired Nassau County police captain, I know that self-defense in cases of fatal use of force mostly involve a claim that the level of force was necessary to stop the aggressor from using deadly force against the officer. The lawman relies on training and instinct -- not legal analysis. In Ferguson in the final moments before the fatal shots, Officer Darren Wilson encountered a large man who had apparently committed a strong-arm robbery, attempted to take his gun, assaulted the officer and was attempting another assault; at least four forcible felonies in all. The grand jury accepted justified self-defense.
In Staten Island, the police again confronted a large man for what they perceived to be a minor offense. Irrespective of the validly of the original charge, Eric Garner was resisting arrest and committing a new offense. The officers seemed to use mere physical force unless it can be shown by convincing evidence that the defendant was being intentionally choked; but the chokehold or headlock itself is not against the law.
Michael J. Butler, Greenport