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Paul blames Garner's death on cigarette tax; King blames obesity

After a grand jury cleared a New York cop in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, two Republicans are putting the blame for his death in two very different places.

Garner, an unarmed black man, died after being put in a chokehold by a white police officer in New York City in July.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is placing the blame on cigarette taxes — and the politicians who passed the law that raised taxes on cigarettes sold within the city to $5.85 per pack of 20 cigarettes. Garner was being arrested for allegedly selling loose cigarettes.

“I do blame the politician,” Paul said Wednesday on MSNBC’s Hardball. “We put our police in a dangerous situation with bad laws.

“I think it’s also important to know that some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes,” Paul said. “So they’ve driven cigarettes underground so as not to make them so expensive.”

“Some politician also had to direct the police to say, ‘Hey, we want you arresting people for selling a loose cigarette.’ And for someone to die over you know breaking that law — there really is no excuse for it,” Paul said.

New York Rep. Peter King had a much different take on the situation, placing the blame squarely on Garner — and his physical condition.

“You had a 350-pound person who was resisting arrest. The police were trying to bring him down as quickly as possible,” King said on CNN’s “The Situation Room.” “If he had not had asthma and a heart condition and was so obese, almost definitely he would not have died from this. The police had no reason to know he was in serious condition.”

King also questioned Garner’s claim that he couldn’t breathe.

“But if you can’t breathe, you can’t talk,” King said.