NEW YORK (Reuters) – A New York City prosecutor said on Tuesday he will present evidence to a grand jury next month in the death of an unarmed man who police put in a chokehold while arresting him.
Daniel Donovan Jr., district attorney in the New York borough of Staten Island, said in a statement that Eric Garner’s death had been investigated “with a full appreciation that no person is above the law, nor beneath its protection.”
Donovan declined to say what criminal charges he would ask grand jurors to consider or who might be called as a witness when goes before the grand jury in September. Grand juries, which have the power to indict if the prosecutor presents sufficient evidence, operate in secrecy.
Garner, 43, was suspected of peddling loose, untaxed cigarettes on a Staten Island sidewalk when police arrested him last month. Officers said he resisted arrested and Garner’s death has prompted outcry about the police department’s use of force.
The city’s medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide, saying the police officers killed him by compressing his neck and chest as they restrained him during the arrest.
The police department has put two of the officers on desk duty, including Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who choked Garner.
For more than 20 years, the New York Police Department’s patrol guide has barred officers from using chokeholds, warning that they can be deadly.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office and the police department did not respond to requests for comment.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Frank McGurty and Bill Trott)