NYC Mayor de Blasio urges federal probe of incident that led to Eric Garner's death
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks after being sworn in on the steps of City Hall in Lower Manhattan Jan. 1, 2014 in New York (AFP)

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday called for a federal investigation into the death of a Staten Island man who died when police put him in a chokehold, and urged New Yorkers to react peacefully to a grand jury's decision not to return an indictment in the racially charged case.

Anyone who believes in justice "should feel a call to action right now," the mayor said hours after the panel decided not to indict a white police officer in the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who police were arresting for illegal cigarette sales.

De Blasio, who is white and is married to a black woman, said it was a "very painful day" for the city and referred to his own biracial son Dante.

Dante has been warned by his parents to take "special care in any encounters he has with police officers," de Blasio said.

The mayor praised Police Commissioner William Bratton for his commitment to bringing the New York City Police Department closer to the community.

"There is momentum for change that will be felt in every neighborhood" of the city, the mayor said.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Eric Walsh)