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NY police chokehold death to go to grand jury

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 19, 2014 at 4:03 pm •  Published: August 19, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — Saying "no person is above the law, nor beneath its protection," a New York prosecutor announced Tuesday that he would ask a grand jury to consider charges in the death of a black man placed in an apparent chokehold by a white police officer.

Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan said an extra grand jury was being assembled next month specifically to hear evidence in the July 17 death of Eric Garner.

"I assure the public that I am committed to conducting a fair, thorough and responsible investigation into Mr. Garner's death, and that I will go wherever the evidence takes me, without fear or favor," Donovan said in a statement.

Garner's death fueled outcry and several peaceful protests against the nation's largest police department and led Commissioner William Bratton to overhaul its training on use-of-force.

The 43-year-old father of six could be heard on an amateur video shouting "I can't breathe!" as Officer Daniel Pantaleo placed him in an apparent chokehold. Police said the officers were arresting Garner on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.

Garner, who had asthma, later died.

Donovan said his decision to take the case to a grand jury was based on his office's investigation and the medical examiner's ruling that the death was a homicide caused by neck compressions from the chokehold, chest compression and Garner's prone position while being restrained.

Donovan said a court granted his request for the extra grand jury on Monday. He said in a statement that he would make no additional comment about the panel's work, including possible witnesses and charges, to maintain proceedings' secrecy.

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