On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner died in the Tompkinsville neighborhood of Staten Island, New York, after a police officer used a grappling hold around Garner’s neck for about 19 seconds. Some view it as a chokehold, while others argue it was a headlock and that no choking took place; the use of chokeholds is a violation of New York City Police Department (NYPD) policy.
On August 19, Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan announced that the case against Pantaleo would go to a grand jury, saying that after considering the medical examiner’s findings, his office decided “it is appropriate to present evidence regarding circumstances of his death to a Richmond County Grand Jury.” On September 29, the grand jury began hearing evidence in the Garner case. The 23-member panel was made up of fourteen white members and nine non-white members, at least five of whom were black. On November 21, Pantaleo testified before the Garner grand jury for about two hours, giving his account of Garner’s death. After having the case for two months, a grand jury decided not to indict Pantaleo on December 3. A Staten Island Judge recused himself from hearing on whether to release transcript grand jury proceedings in the case.