**GRAPHIC** Asthmatic man dies after NYPD cop puts him chokehold (VIDEO)

A 400-pound asthmatic man who was taken to the ground by a group of NYPD officers died after being put in a chokehold Thursday.

Two plainclothes officers stopped Eric Garner, 43, as he stood outside Bay Beauty. They questioned him about his involvement with selling untaxed cigarettes, and when Garner refused to put his hands behind his back, the cops tackled him and took him to the ground. Garner died in the ensuing struggle, New York Daily News reports.

Multiple officers assisted in the arrest. One held Garner’s head to the ground while another placed him in a chokehold. Garner repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” Several moments later, he lay motionless.

An NYPD spokesman said Garner “was being placed in custody, went into cardiac arrest and died,” but Garner’s family said the police were just harassing him.

“They’re covering their asses, he was breaking up a fight,” said Garner’s wife, Esaw Garner. “They harassed and harassed my husband until they killed him.”

A detective from the NYPD Internal Affairs Division told Esaw an investigation has been launched “because there is wrongdoing.”

District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan said, “My office is working along with the NYPD to do a complete and thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Garner’s death.”

[ New York Daily News ]