Staten Island D.A. Reportedly Didn’t Ask Garner Grand Jury to Consider Lesser Charges Against Pantaleo

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Protestors gather in New York Grand Central Station on December 3, 2014 after a grand jury decided not to charge a white police officer in the choking death of Eric Garner, a black man, days after a similar decision sparked renewed unrest in Missouri. Eric Garner died after being placed in a chokehold by New York police Officer Daniel Pantaleo while being arrested on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes in Staten Island.
Photo: Timothy A. Clary

NBC New York might have an explanation for how Daniel Pantaleo managed to completely avoid charges for killing Eric Garner, despite the video that showed the NYPD officer choking the 43-year-old father of six right before he died.

According to NBC’s sources, Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan only asked the grand jury to consider charging Pantaleo with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. As the New York Daily News explains, “Those charges are harder to get because they imply that the cop knew his actions could result in death or serious injury — and did them anyway.” This means that Donovan didn’t present the grand jury with the option of charging Pantaleo with something less serious, such as reckless endangerment, which only would have required the jurors to agree that the cop’s actions played a role in Garner’s death.

Earlier this week, the man who shot the footage of Garner’s encounter with Pantaleo told the Daily News that he felt the jurors “already had their minds made up” by the time he testified in early September: 

When I went to the grand jury to speak on my behalf, nobody in the grand jury was even paying attention to what I had to say,” Orta said. “People were on their phones, people were talking. I feel like they didn’t give (Garner) a fair grand jury.

“People was on their phones, people were having side conversations, like it was just a regular day to them,” he said of the jurors.

Donovan, who has been extremely cagey about the grand jury’s proceedings, has refused to comment on any of the reports.