The New York grand jury that decided not to charge a white police officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man heard testimony from 50 witnesses and considered 60 exhibits during nine weeks of deliberations, a state judge said on Thursday.
The details were contained in a brief order from Stephen Rooney, a judge in Staten Island who granted the request of Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan to release publicly some details about the secret proceeding.
Eric Garner of Staten Island died on July 17 after several officers tackled him during an attempted arrest and one of them, Daniel Pantaleo, put Garner in a chokehold. A bystander captured the episode on video using a mobile phone.
The city’s medical examiner has said police officers killed the 43-year-old Garner by compressing his neck and chest, adding that Garner’s asthma and obesity had contributed to his death.
Grand jury proceedings are generally secret, but as Donovan announced the grand jury’s decision on Wednesday not to indict Pantaleo, he said he had asked a judge for permission to release some information.
Rooney released seven sentences about the proceedings of the grand jury on Staten Island, one of New York City’s five boroughs.
Among the exhibits admitted into evidence for the grand jury were records about New York police procedures and training and medical records about Garner, the judge’s order said.
The grand jury’s decision not to charge Pantaleo sparked protests in New York and other American cities.
The amount of information released was far less than what was made public last month in St. Louis County, Missouri, in another case of a police-related death. There, prosecutor Bob McCulloch released transcripts of witness testimony before the grand jury that examined the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson in August.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax and David Ingram; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Frances Kerry)