By Juan Soto
A Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict a white police officer in the chokehold death of black resident Eric Garner, Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan said in a statement Wednesday, as Queens reacted with dismay.
“A grand jury has completed its investigation into the tragic death of Eric Garner,” he said. “After deliberation on the evidence in this matter, the grand jury found that there was no reasonable cause to vote an indictment.”
The decision was reached Wednesday.
Garner died July 17 in a chokehold during his arrest for selling loose cigarettes.
“Upon Eric Garner’s death, investigations were immediately commenced, and independently conducted,” the district attorney said.
The grand jury heard testimony for months, including that of the officer involved.
Reactions to the decision came immediately.
“I am absolutely disappointed, appalled, and ashamed by the grand jury’s decision not to indict,” said City Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans). “Once again, it has been demonstrated that the threshold for indictment when it comes to black lives at the hands of police has been elevated to an unattainable standard.”
Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) said, “I was surprised to learn of the Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict in the case of Eric Garner, given the video showing an officer applying a prohibited chokehold, and the medical examiner’s report identifying ‘compression of neck (chokehold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police as the cause of Mr. Garner’s death.”
Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) pointed out, “It is with a heavy heart and sincere disappointment that I acknowledge once more that our judicial system has failed to administer justice on behalf of those most vulnerable. It is imperative now for the communities of color and our allies to collectively voice our concerns on excessive policing and work diligently to enact systemic change.”
In Washington, U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) and several other members of the New York City delegation expressed their unhappiness with the grand jury’s decision.