STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (PIX11) -- "He started frisking me. I stepped back from him and he just started jumping me. Started beating me with batons and everything."
Jeff Thomas says an officer hit him over and over again with his baton, even after he was on the ground and subdued. Bystanders in the background begged the officer to stop.
Thomas says it happened on July 12, just a few feet away from where Eric Garner was approached by police last Thursday.
"The beating that they gave me...to end up for Eric to get killed, it's like they don't value life anymore. It's like the police are a gang," Thomas said.
The death of Eric Garner cast spotlight on Staten Island and raised questions over tactics used by officers from the 120th precinct. Jose lasalle runs the grassroots anti-brutality group Cop Watch patrol unit.
"Now with these cameras in existence, it has shown the world and the people that watch this video that this is something that's been happening for so long," Iasalle said.
For now, Officer Daniel Pantaleo is stripped of his gun and badge after placing Garner in an apparent choke hold. The Police Benevolence Association President Pat Lynch said the modified assignment is wrong and motivated by politics.
But civil rights attorneyJason Leventhal says Officer Pantaleo has a history of crossing the line.
"My clients Tommy Rice and Darren Collins filed a false arrest and malicious prosecution lawsuit against Daniel Pantaleo based on falsely arresting them based on his lies," Leventhal said.
The suit was settled with the city for $30,000 earlier this year. There was never any admission of wrongdoing by Officer Pantaleo. But Leventhal says Pantaleo broke department rules.
"Pantaleo strip searched Mr. Rice and Mr. Collins in public outside the car right in the street. Open to public view."
"Why was he still on the force? He needs to be fired, suspended," said Garner's widow, Esaw.
Garner's death continues to be difficult for many on Staten Island . But for Esaw Garner, the loss is personal. She and Eric were married for more than 25 years. She recalled their last moment together.
"I gave him a kiss. Said I love you babe. And he said right back at you. I got out the car.I never thought that would be the last time that I would kiss my husband."