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The Call Blog: Grand Jury Will Consider Criminal Charges In Eric Garner Case

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Have something to tell us at The Call? Drop us a line at thecall@ny1.com and we'll post it to our blog.



This is a big step forward for those who want criminal charges filed against the officers and EMTs involved in the death of Eric Garner. But it is still just a step. The grand jury may not vote for an indictment. And if it does, it may be for charges that don't carry a lengthy prison sentence. The legal process is still just beginning.



Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan announced today a grand jury will consider criminal charges in connection with the death of Eric Garner. The decision was based upon a month-long investigation conducted by his office and a "careful review of the recent findings of the Medical Examiner." Those findings found a chokehold contributed to Garner's death, which was ruled a homicide.

In a statement, the D.A. didn't reveal what criminal charges will be considered by the grand jury or who might be indicted. Donovan said, "I assure the public that I am committed to conducting a fair, thorough, and responsible investigation." Mayor de Blasio added he is "pleased that with today's announcement, the legal process is now underway." What do you say?

What's your reaction to the Staten Island District Attorney's decision to present evidence on criminal charges? What charges would be appropriate for whom? Do you feel a "fair, thorough, and responsible investigation" is taking place? Should today's announcement affect the decision to hold the rally on Staten Island on Saturday?

Send your thoughts using the link above.



This is the way investigations are supposed to proceed -- not with rabble-rousers like Al Sharpton leading protests in the streets, or with politicians, academics, and others who should know better cavalierly using words like "murder" to describe the incident in question, but with sworn testimony taken under controlled circumstances in calm, untroubled surroundings and, yes, at this state, in secret. The last part of your question, however, seems ill-advised since I question how many people reading this message even know what it is a grand jury is supposed to do (I've served on one, as it happens -- and even in that instance, there were people serving with me, on the grand jury, who were unclear for the first few weeks what it was we were supposed to be doing),

So brace yourselves for lots of comments that are, to use a phrase heard often on PERRY MASON, irrelevant, immaterial, and incompetent.

Bruce
Upper West Side
Manhattan



The District Attorney is doing the right thing and in a court of law those who are guilty of inappropriate conduct will pay the price of their actions. This does not condemn the police dept.who for the most part do a great job and risk their lives every day on the job , but it will condemn those responsible for his death , disguising their behavior as line of duty.

Jessica.
Arden heights



Hi John,

I hope the Grand Jury consider murder charges against the officer that put Mr Garner in a chokehold and the EMT workers that left him to die on the street,he said he couldn't breathe they should of given him oxygen they're the ones that killed him it's all on the videotape. I hope the Grand Jury is a mix of all races because if it's a all white jury the officers and EMT workers would be acquitted and that's not good because they murdered Mr Garner, they can't go free. The rally should go on as planned on Saturday all minority people have to march for justice and to end racism, it exists everywhere.

Herman
UWS



I WISH GARNER WOULD HAVE LISTENED TO THE COMMANDS OF THE POLICE OFFICERS. ABSENT OF FLAILING ARMS AND RESISTING HE MAY STILL BE ALIVE. THE CHOKE HOLD WILL BE PLAYED DOWN BECAUSE IT LOOKED MORE LIKE A 1/4 1/2 NELSON MOVE. WHEN YOU ARE ABLE TO SPEAK, AN AIRWAY IS STILL ESTABLISHED. LAW IS NOT BASED ON EMOTION, IT IS BASED ON THE WRITTEN WORD. MY BOTH SONS WERE TAUGHT NOT TO RESIST WHEN STOPPED BY POLICE. THEY ARE WHITE AND HAVE BEEN STOPPED, BECAUSE THEY FIT A DESCRIPTION.

JOE, BAY TERRACE



Hi John,

To me this S.I. D.A is just generalizing. We are still left in the dark about this case because all this tells us is that he is going to do a thorough job which he gets paid to do anyway. The mayor is pleased. The deterrents were in play by Speaker V. with her medical problems and and Ex. Speaker Q. out on the trail for Cuomo. They will still march for their cause anyway. So what have we learned from this month long investigation. We all will still have to wait and see. They should consider moving it to another venue.

Thank you John,
maxxiee
mp



The decision of DA Dan Donovan is right unfortunately even if cops beeing indited it coulg be over turned on appeal plus the defense have the option choose jury or non jury trial, federal prosecution would be my choice unfortunatelly that will be only on civil rights violation, but it would be less partial then the local DA who allways deal with these cops, I dont think the the investigation is fair and impartial and never will be, the march in Staten Island should go on full steam, with the presence of parents of Michael Brown, the other black youth who was slaughtered by white police in that militerised town of Ferguson MO.

Joco from Sunnyside



John,

The chokehold cop should have been arrested, charged and locked up at Rikers the day of the attack where he would await trial. Given the delay and the general hesitation to charge a cop with any malfeasance, it's doubtful that he'll be punished at all.

Joe
Port Richmond, SI



Eric Garner was alleged to have been selling,"loosies", and there has been no discussion of whether he was observed to be doing this or if Police officers confronted the man only because they, "knew" him. When Garner was later searched (post mortem)--he had no cigarettes. Eric Garner denied doing anything illegal and threw his arms up when he was pulled backwards and down by officers who ran behind him. Garner did not appear to be attempting to strike the officers--and there was no audio of him cursing. In fact, Garner appeared to be frustrated, not aggressive. More importantly, no one mentions the fact that when Eric Garner was thrown to the ground, then flipped over face-down, an officer jumped on and straddled him--with his knee pressed into his back. Garner’s face, chest and lungs were crushed against the concrete sidewalk and COMPRESSED--of course he couldn’t breathe! Mr. Garner might have survived despite his asthma, his weight, and the beat down--IF he had not had the life CRUSHED out of him between an aggressive cop's knee--and a New York sidewalk. We want what everyone should want--fair, just, expeditious, ajudication.

Jae, MANHATTAN

P.S. Incidentally, when Mr. Sharpton appears with a family--it's at the request of the family.



When is Al Sharpton going to call out the sucker punching of white people by black youths?
Just sayin ?

Thanx,
Teresa from Staten Island



The description that the officer ‘placed garner in a chokehold’ is itself a mild sounding euphemism. This killer strangled him, and ignored his pleas. He likely told himself the victim was lying when he cried I can’t breathe.

There should be street protests in NY just like in Ferguson, until this policeman is indicted. This will uphold law and order. I’m sure even many cops disagree with the head of the police union. Any polls on that?

Meredith in Manhattan



I believe the police should where a camera, also have a higher authority over them.

Anonymous



I think an investigation is just a smokescreen. The cops are going to.get off on a lesser charge,thats why a federal investigation is necessary

Omar
Far Rockaway



"i don't believe that the cops will be indicted on federal charges becauce the case is weak at this time".

Efrank-astoria



John;

I have no faith in Dan Donovan and don't believe that he will be able to seat an unbiased grand jury in Staten Island.

The feds stepped in immediately in Ferguson and I don't know what they are waiting for in Eric Garner's case.

Kate
Midtown East



In response to Mildred's comment, yes it is sad & Tragic that Mr. Garner died, but lets not automatically look to blame anyone for a crime. What I saw were Police Officers making an arrest, which we as a society want them to do, instead of walking away. Were tactics, and procedures applied improperly, I don't know. As a City we should allow our legal system to investigate, and handle this incident. Because the last thing I think we want is to start viciously scapegoating Police for doing their job.

Cele



After watching the video multiple times and at no time did I perceive Mr. Garner acting violent nor threatening. What I will say is that he did appear agitated and anxious but not violent. This case and similar cases require police officers to obtain practices of negotiation and deescalation. Police officers demonstrate fear base actions an reactions and need to again exercise negotiation, especially where there is no imminent danger. All of the officers involve should be accontable.

PBG



I'm with Wilbert... The law that he broke was resisting arrest. He was a career criminal and knows how to submit to arrest. His hand were up because he didn't want to put them behind his back.

Colette



I was taught to understand that "NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW" well..... A POLICE OFFICER, people that are supposed to uphold and enforce the law committed an ILLEGAL ACT on a civilian therefore he broke the law and he should NOT be exempt from due process just he because he's a law enforcement officer. And for the record, if he really resisted arrest do you think that it would've been that easy to take him down as big as ge was?!?! Let's be real

A.M.



John,

I think people need to really understand that black are being killed simply for being black. It's as simple as that whether or not they comply with being arrested or not. This country is too comfortable with killing us and never answering for it. Because jurors ignorantly side with police due to their racial hang ups about black people.

Stephanie
From corona



How many people have died in police custody or the process of being arrested?and how officers have been indicted and convicted. If the answers is none then it won't happen this time either. The cops are immune from the law unless it involves a plunger!!!!!

Jennifer



THEY NEED TO MAKE AN EXAMPLE! If they dont punish this cop then all the cops in the streets are going to think theyre untouchable more then ever! Even if he was a career crimnal all he was doing was selling cigarettes he did not deserve to die and no one is God to decide weather his rights shouldn't count just because of his passed! That cop is safer in jail then out in the streets in my opinion.

Michelle



Ok so I am again confused. My prayers go out to this man's family but is it acceptable to think that when the police attempt to arrest you, you can say no I wasn't doing anything leave me alone and they should walk away? Resisting arrest doesn't not have to be violent resistance.

Has anyone considered that he worked himself into a state of cardiac distress while arguing against the police. There are so many moving pieces that are not being addressed

Joy



The guy that just said that career criminals have no rights under the Constitution is exactly the problem in this country - a complete lack of thinking before you say or do anything. That guy was just ignorant but the cops who didn't think have to answer for their actions. It wasn't murder and I am thoroughly convinced all those cops would have done it different if they could go back, but if I kill you by my own negligence there are legal repercussions - that's how it works - killing someone in any way costs you. Period. As far as the racial issues - just come on already - if you haven't noticed that leading cause of death in young black men went from high blood pressure to cop recently you just aren't paying attention.

Spiro now from Jackson Heights



Please discuss the legal definition of "resisting arrest." How does case law define "resisting arrest?"

J.G.



One officer there could hace/should have said okay enough...roll him on his side. Too many on top of Mr. GARDNER. SLIM persons have died from same situation, reason why you don't leave people on their stomachs.

Anonymous

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