Grand Jury in Eric Garner Choke Hold Case Could Decide Charges This Week

Demonstrators rally against police brutality in memory of Eric Garner on Aug. 23, 2014, in Staten Island, N.Y. 
Demonstrators rally against police brutality in memory of Eric Garner on Aug. 23, 2014, in Staten Island, N.Y. 

Updated Wed., Dec. 3, 2:32 p.m. EST: A grand jury has decided not to indict the police officer involved in the Eric Garner choke hold case. More to come.

Earlier: A Staten Island, N.Y., grand jury could render a decision as early as Wednesday on whether charges will be brought against officers in the case of Eric Garner, a Staten Island father of six who died after being choked by police

The July incident, during which a police officer administered a choke hold on Garner, who can be heard saying, "I can't breathe," was captured on video that went viral.


According to the New York Times, there is no definite date as to when the grand jury will make its decision, but the Staten Island district attorney, Daniel M. Donovan Jr., noted that a grand jury announcement could "come this week, possibly as early as Wednesday."

The grand jury is meeting again at 10 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Times.

Police, who believed that Garner, 43, had been selling loose cigarettes, approached him and a struggle ensued. Garner was choked until his lifeless body lay on the sidewalk. The video of the incident sparked outrage and protest throughout New York.

Officer Daniel Pantaleo is the only officer facing a possible indictment—the other officers were given immunity—and was the last to testify before the grand jury, the Times reports. Pantaleo testified on Nov. 21 for more than two hours, the news site notes.

The New York City Police Department has been gearing up for the decision since witnessing the aftermath in Ferguson, Mo., of a St. Louis County grand jury’s decision not to indict former police Officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown.

Regarding Garner, according to the Times, "Legal experts and former prosecutors have said that despite the medical examiner's ruling the death a homicide, murder charges would be unlikely. Officers are generally given wide latitude to use force, though police department policy specifically prohibits choke holds."


The grand jury could decide that Pantaleo should face lesser charges, which include homicide, second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, according to the Times.

"Beyond the video, the grand jury has been hearing from other witnesses to the July 17 arrest, along with evidence of events before and after the encounter," the Times reports.


In August the Rev. Al Sharpton led a peaceful protest through the neighborhood where Garner died. Sharpton has also questioned the length of time the grand jury has taken in making its decision, according to the Times.

Read more at the New York Times.

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