The agents of contempt and cruelty who have chosen to identify with killer cops (on the basis of race, property, authoritarian reflex, or whatever) have drawn extra attention to the three-word sentence by disputing it. Still, as honest viewers of the murder video can attest, Garner's words weigh against the innocence of the police who killed him, rather than excusing their assumption that he was fit to endure their unprovoked violence.
I recently read an article on the Great Orange Satan regarding the actual mechanisms of speaking while being unable to breathe. And it occurred to me as I read that there is substantial metaphoric depth to people around our country taking up the slogan "I can't breathe." It's as if the civic being of the US (in the rapacious, polluting stranglehold of the money power) can't manage to inhale the oxygen it needs to survive, only to use the remaining impoverished air in its lungs to cry out its distress.
Murdering unarmed "suspects," profiting from fraudulent foreclosures, stripping people of expectations of privacy, poisoning rivers and aquifers, liquidating productive industry, establishing programs of torture and rape, none of these things merit punishment or even a court case to determine guilt when they are conducted under the aegis of government or corporate authority. Meanwhile our country's penal systems imprison a greater percentage of our population than has been done for any society in known history.
I can't breathe.