Eric Garner was a 400-pound man with several ailments, including asthma, which made it difficult for him to find work. Being a father of six, he had to find other ways to make money, which apparently included selling untaxed cigarettes.
I can’t imagine being able to make much money at all doing something like that in my home state of Georgia. But up in New York, a pack of smokes can cost you $14.50, because the state tobacco tax is $4.35, and New York City’s local tax is $1.60. With taxes like that, they’re pretty much begging for people to resort to creating a cigarette black market.
Nevertheless, Mr. Garner said he wasn’t selling untaxed cigarettes in this particular case. He and others around him say that he had just broken up a fight that took place outside a beauty parlor before police confronted him. Here’s an eyewitness video:
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