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Method Man Reflects On Run-Ins With Police In Wake Of Eric Garner's Death

03/11/2015 06:57 pm ET

For Method Man, the sadness and sorrow surrounding Eric Garner's death was unfortunately nothing new. Growing up in Staten Island, the rapper — whose real name is Clifford Smith and is most notably known for being a member of the Wu-Tang Clan — had countless run-ins with police and said in a HuffPost Live interview Wednesday that Garner's death hit close to home, as he had a close friend killed by a policeman.

"I felt the pain, because we had spoke out about a cop that had done that to one of my dear friends I grew up with, Ernest Sayon," he told host Ricky Camilleri. "He was killed by a cop. I'm going to say killed, because he was killed by this cop, Donald Brown, who strangled him. Choked him to death. The same way Eric Garner, death by asphyxiation. Over a firework that he never even threw."

A New York Times article from 1994 details the death of Sayon where the scene is eerily similar to Garner's. And, not shockingly, after months of deliberation a grand jury in Staten Island decided not to file charges against Brown.

"It's not new to us in Staten Island, which is sad," Smith said.

He went on to describe scenes from the city much like any of his neighbors would. In doing so, he painted a picture of how policemen, most of the time not even from the neighborhood they're patrolling, restraining residents from where they could and could not stand or hang out. But Smith was not angry at the whole situation; to him, it was more like old news.

Instead, he went on to say that he knew cops who did live in the neighborhood and who showed respect to citizens and the lives they lived.

"There were a few of them," he said. "They weren't ball-breakers. These are guys that were from the community, who grew up in Staten Island. A lot of times, what people fail to understand is, the cops are just as afraid as we are to be in those areas."

That was also a huge emphasis of Smith's thoughts: the human aspect of it all. Emotions — especially fear — play a part in both sides of these interactions with police. Smith just hopes that the policing of these communities can get to a more respectful place than it at the moment, and has been for decades.

"These things tend to happen. It's human," he said. "If we can just get a human level, and police can stay on a human level with the community, because there are law-abiding citizens in these communities as well as good cops in these communities. If we can just bridge that gap and get those two together ... If we can be treated as human beings in our communities, we wouldn't have any problem with being policed. But as far as protecting and serving, we don't get that part of it."

Also on HuffPost:

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A police officer reacts as he pushes protestors away from an arrest during a march against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner, Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Demonstrators participate in a rally against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York. A grand jury cleared a white New York City police officer Wednesday in the videotaped chokehold death of Garner, an unarmed black man, who had been stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Police make arrests after protesters rallying against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner attempted to block traffic at the intersection of 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue near Times Square, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Protestor Rayyan Ali cries as she protests in Herald Square Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York, in response to a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner. A grand jury cleared a white New York City police officer Wednesday in the videotaped chokehold death of Garner, an unarmed black man, who had been stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Protestors march against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Demonstrators participate in a rally against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York. A grand jury cleared a white New York City police officer Wednesday in the videotaped chokehold death of Garner, an unarmed black man, who had been stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A protester sits in the road while rallying against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner encountering a line of police as they make their way west on 42nd Street near Times Square, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A protestor is arrested during a march against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner, Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Protesters rallying against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner chant as they pass police while marching through Midtown in the early morning hours of Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Protestor Michael Alvarez is arrested during a march against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner, Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in New York. A grand jury cleared a white New York City police officer Wednesday in the videotaped chokehold death of Garner, an unarmed black man, who had been stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, a lawyer for the victim's family said. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Police make an arrest as protesters rallying against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner march through Midtown in the early morning hours of Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A protestor is arrested during a march against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York. A grand jury cleared a white New York City police officer Wednesday in the videotaped chokehold death of Garner, an unarmed black man, who had been stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, a lawyer for the victim's family said. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Police make arrests as protesters rallying against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner march near Times Square, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Protestors march against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York. A grand jury cleared a white New York City police officer Wednesday in the videotaped chokehold death of Garner, an unarmed black man, who had been stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, a lawyer for the victim's family said. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Protestors march against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York. A grand jury cleared a white New York City police officer Wednesday in the videotaped chokehold death of Garner, an unarmed black man, who had been stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, a lawyer for the victim's family said. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Fellow protesters cheer those in police custody in a correction bus at the Manhattan side of the Manhattan Bridge Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York, after several protesters were arrested as they tried to block the bridge entrance protesting against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner. A grand jury cleared a white New York City police officer Wednesday in the videotaped chokehold death of Garner, an unarmed black man, who had been stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, a lawyer for the victim's family said. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    NYPD police officers surround a Department of Corrections bus at the Manhattan side of the Manhattan Bridge Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York, after several protesters were arrested as they tried to block the bridge entrance protesting against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner. A grand jury cleared a white New York City police officer Wednesday in the videotaped chokehold death of Garner, an unarmed black man, who had been stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, a lawyer for the victim's family said. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Police arrest a protestor rallying against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner near Times Square, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York. A grand jury cleared a white New York City police officer Wednesday in the videotaped chokehold death of Garner, an unarmed black man, who had been stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Police make arrests after protesters rallying against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner attempted to block traffic at the intersection of 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue near Times Square, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Protesters rallying against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner sing as they carry a collection of mock coffins bearing the names of victims of fatal police encounters at the intersection of Flatbush Avenue and Atlantic Avenue near the Barclays Center, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. A grand jury cleared a white New York City police officer Wednesday in the videotaped chokehold death of Garner, an unarmed black man, who had been stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Protestors occupy Herald Square during march Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York, against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner. A grand jury cleared a white New York City police officer Wednesday in the videotaped chokehold death of Garner, an unarmed black man, who had been stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, a lawyer for the victim's family said. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A person is taken into custody at the Manhattan side of the Manhattan Bridge Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York, after several protesters were arrested as they tried to block the bridge entrance protesting against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner. A grand jury cleared a white New York City police officer Wednesday in the videotaped chokehold death of Garner, an unarmed black man, who had been stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, a lawyer for the victim's family said. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Protesters rallying against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner hold hands as they make their way up Ninth Avenue in the early morning hours of Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A police helicopter shines a light on protesters rallying against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner as they cross the eastbound traffic lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York. A grand jury cleared a white New York City police officer Wednesday in the videotaped chokehold death of Garner, an unarmed black man, who had been stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Protesters react as police make arrests after protesters rallying against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner attempted to block traffic at the intersection of 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue near Times Square, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Protesters rallying against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner confront police as they attempt to block traffic at the intersection of 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue near Times Square, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Protesters rallying against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner confront police as they attempt to block traffic at the intersection of 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue near Times Square, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Police make arrests after protesters rallying against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner attempted to block traffic at the intersection of 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue near Times Square, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A woman weeps and cries out as police make arrests after protesters rallying against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner attempted to block traffic at the intersection of 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue near Times Square, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Protesters rallying against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner hold their hands up symbolically as they observe a moment of silence at the intersection of Flatbush Avenue and Atlantic Avenue near the Barclays Center, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. A grand jury cleared a white New York City police officer Wednesday in the videotaped chokehold death of Garner, an unarmed black man, who had been stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
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