Rev Al Sharpton stood with Eric Garner’s family and addressed protesters at the National Action Network’s headquarters in Harlem.
Rev Al Sharpton stood with Eric Garner’s family and addressed protesters at the National Action Network’s headquarters in Harlem.Reuters

Activist Rev Al Sharpton rallied demonstrators in New York on Saturday to protest against police brutality following the death of an African-American man who was placed in an apparent chokehold by an NYPD officer.

Eric Garner, 43, died on Thursday while being arresting for allegedly selling illegal untaxed cigarettes.

A video emerged of the struggle, which showed what NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton said appeared to be a chokehold, which is prohibited under the department's policy.

Garner, a married father of six from Staten Island, is repeatedly heard saying in the video "I can't breathe", while at least five police officers subdue him.

Standing with Garner's family at Sharpton's National Action Network headquarters in Harlem, the civil rights activist said the incident was part of a "recurring" pattern of police brutality, Business Insider reported.

"There are many crises that we are dealing with but none has impacted more and more than the recurring problem with the New York City police," Sharpton said.

"We are going to stand and get different results. We want you to stand until we achieve justice with this family."

"This is going to be a real test to see where policies are in the city now and whether the change that we feel has occurred, has occurred. A whole of 22 years we have dealt with these cases. We are going to continue."

Garner's wife Esaw told the New York Daily News: "When I kissed my husband this morning, I never thought it would be for the last time."

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference on Friday following Garner's death and vowed to launch a "full, thorough, transparent investigation of this incident".

"It was very troubling," he said. "I watched it the same way a family member would watch it and it was very sad to watch. But that being said, we can't pass ultimate judgement based on one video."

In 1994, Anthony Ramon Baez died after he was placed in a chokehold by NYPD police officer Francis Livoti in what became one of the most high-profile cases of police brutality. Livoti was subsequently dismissed from the NYPD and convicted by a federal jury of violating Baez's civil rights.

Watch footage of Eric Garner being subdued by NYPD officers below: