NYPD Brass Ordered a Crackdown on Illegal Cigarettes Right Before Eric Garner’s Death

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NEW YORK, NY - JULY 19:  A memorial to 
Eric Garner is viewed following a demonstration against his death after he was taken into police custody in Staten Island on Thursday on July 19, 2014 in New York City. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in a news conference yesterday that there will be a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Garner. The 400-pound, 6-foot-4 asthmatic, Garner (43) died after police put him in a chokehold outside of a convenience store for illegally selling cigarettes.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Photo: Spencer Platt/2014 Getty Images

The call to crack down on the sale of untaxed cigarettes that eventually led to a police confrontation with Eric Garner on Staten Island last month came from the highest levels of the NYPD, the Daily News reports today. Chief of the Department Philip Banks, the NYPD's third-highest-ranking official, was first made aware of the problem in Tompkinsville at a meeting in March about quality-of-life issues. Officers soon began conducting surveillance on the streets and began making arrests, nabbing Garner for selling cigarettes in late March. In early July, a memo came from high up to intensify the focus on those same quality-of-life issues. On July 17, Garner was killed