The Staten Island district attorney announced Tuesday that he would present information relating to the death of an unarmed man who was put in a chokehold by a New York police officer to a grand jury, a potentially big development in the investigation into the incident.
Eric Garner, 43, died on July 17. Chokeholds are prohibited by the New York Police Department. His death sparked anger and protests after a video circulated showing him gasping for air, and the New York City medical examiner later ruled Garner’s death a homicide.
In a statement Tuesday, Daniel M. Donovan Jr., the district attorney, cited the medical examiner’s findings in saying that he had asked that a grand jury be impaneled in Richmond County to hear “evidence regarding the circumstances” of how Garner died.
Donvoan said he would not comment on what criminal charges could be considered by the grand jury, nor would he say when the grand jury would conclude its investigation.
Garner’s death has also been cited repeatedly by many discussing a larger problem in the wake of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Mo. Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old, was shot and killed by a police officer on Aug. 9.
After Brown was killed, the National Bar Association, which represents African American lawyers and judges, called for a Justice Department investigation into both deaths. Garner and Brown were both black men who died after being confronted by police, and a thorough investigation would be the only way that “the African American community’s faith in law enforcement can be strengthened,” Pamela Meanes, president of the association, said in a statement.
News of a grand jury looking into Garner’s death came the same day that a state prosecutor in Missouri said a grand jury would begin hearing evidence in Brown’s death on Wednesday.