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

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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