CRIME
12/05/2014 11:22 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Grand Jury In Eric Garner Case Wasn't Asked To Consider 'Reckless Endangerment' Charge: Report

The Staten Island District Attorney did not ask the Eric Garner grand jury to consider reckless endangerment charges against NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, NBC New York reports.

An unnamed source familiar with the case told the station that District Attorney Daniel Donovan only asked jurors to consider charges of manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide as they heard evidence.

Under New York law, reckless endangerment entails conduct that causes a substantial risk of serious physical injury or death to another person. Garner, a 43-year-old asthmatic, died after Pantaleo put him in a chokehold in July.

The jury determined that there was no probable cause to indict Pantaleo in Garner's death Wednesday, a decision that has been met with criticism from people across the political spectrum and sparked nationwide protests.

Although grand jury proceedings are typically sealed by law, Donovan petitioned a judge to release limited information about them, according to ABC New York. None of the evidence presented was included in the release, only the following:

  • Jurors sat for nine weeks
  • Testimony was heard from 50 witnesses
  • Those witnesses included 22 civilians and 28 cops, EMTs or doctors
  • There were 60 exhibits, including videos, records and photos
  • The grand jury was instructed in law regarding physical use of force

The D.A.'s office issued a statement Thursday that said he was "constrained by New York law to reveal nothing further regarding these proceedings."

In New York, indictment by grand jury requires at least 12 jurors to agree that there is sufficient evidence and reasonable cause to believe a crime was committed. The D.A.'s role is to present evidence and instruct the jury in the principles of relevant law.

Legal experts told SILive.com that Pantaleo's testimony was likely a huge factor in the decision not to indict. The 29-year-old officer, who has received resounding support from the NYPD union, testified before the jury for two hours before Thanksgiving, his lawyers said.

At least one expert who talked to the site was unconvinced by the ruling.

"I'm disappointed in the result. I believe the officer's actions were not necessary to effectuate the arrest of Eric Garner," Mark J. Fonte, a criminal defense lawyer and former prosecutor, said. "It seems to me there was a better way to handle the situation with Eric Garner. No person should lose their life for selling loose cigarettes."

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