A Staten Island judge has denied a request to release records from the grand jury investigation into the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died in July after being put into a chokehold by a white police officer.
Despite the request, which was filed by a coalition of nonprofits, advocacy groups and media organizations, New York Supreme Court Justice William Garnett issued a decision Thursday stating there was no “compelling and particularized need” to release the records.
“What would they use the minutes for?” Garnett wrote in his decision. “The only answer the court has heard was the possibility of effecting legislative change. That proffered need is purely speculative and does not satisfy the requirements of law.”
In December, a grand jury voted not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in Garner’s death, despite video evidence of Pantaleo putting the 43-year-old father of six into a prohibited chokehold. The grand jury’s decision — which came soon after a separate grand jury declined to indict then-Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri — set off months of protests across the city and the country.
It also spurred the Legal Aid Society, the New York Civil Liberties Union, the New York Post, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and New York City Public Advocate Letitia James to file a motion requesting the release of the grand jury minutes, or transcripts, to the public.
James, the NYCLU and the Legal Aid Society said Thursday that they will appeal Garnett’s decision. The Post declined to comment about whether it also plans to appeal.
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