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Eric Garner Grand Jury Documents Will Be Kept Hidden From the Public - Judge Rules

Eric Garner was choked to death by cops after he objected to being harassed by for the umpteenth time for selling loose cigarettes.
Eric Garner was choked to death by cops after he objected to being harassed by for the umpteenth time for
selling loose cigarettes.

By Al Baker
A judge ruled on Thursday against releasing the evidence presented to the grand jury that decided not to indict a New York police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

Lawyers for the parties seeking the evidence had seized on a public push after the grand jury, as well as the one in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., declined to bring criminal charges against the officers involved.

The prosecutor in the Brown case made public some of the information about the grand jury. But on Staten Island, Justice William E. Garnett of State Supreme Court decided against the request for public disclosure sought by the New York Civil Liberties Union; the city’s public advocate, Letitia James; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; and The New York Post.

Justice Garnett sided with the Staten Island district attorney, Daniel M. Donovan Jr., who has fought the release of grand jury materials, arguing such disclosure would have a “chilling effect” on witnesses.

Mr. Garner died on July 17 after a confrontation with the police, in which Officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a chokehold as he and other officers tried to take him into custody on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. Mr. Garner was unarmed.

In a decision, Justice Garnett said the parties seeking disclosure had failed to establish a “compelling” need to make the grand jury minutes public.

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