Community members in Staten Island and the other four boroughs marched on in July to demand justice for what they say was excessive force that led to the death of Eric Garner. Credit: Bess Adler/Metro
A grand jury will meet next month in a Staten Island courthouse to look into the death of Eric Garner.
Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan released a statement on Tuesday that he would open an grand jury investigation into Garner's July 17 death while in police custody.
In a statement, Donovan wrote that the decision to impanel a jury was based on his office's investigation so far as well as the medical examiner office's findings that Garner's death was a homicide by chokehold.
Eyewitness video taken at the time of Garner's arrest for reportedly selling untaxed, loose cigarettes on a Staten Island corner showed NYPD Officer Daniel Panteleo wrapping his arms round the neck of the 300-pound man before pulling him down.
"I can't breathe," Garner is heard saying while reaching out with his arm.
Donovan said he would not release any information about potential witnesses, charges or suspects but said he appreciated that no person is neither above the law or beneath its protection.
"I assure the public that I am committed to conducting a fair, thorough, and responsible investigation into Mr. Garner's death," Donovan wrote, "and that I will go wherever the evidence takes me, without fear or favor."
Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch, who has defended the NYPD from criticism of its policing tactics, heralded the development as encouraging, and that he believed the process would both be fair and free of emotion or political considerations.
Mayor Bill de Blasio also praised Donovan's hand in the investigation in a statement.
"New York City deserves an investigation into the Garner case that is fair and complete," he wrote. "We are pleased that with today's announcement, the legal process is now underway."