New Yorkers asked to be patient as grand jury mulls Eric Garner case

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STATEN ISLAND (PIX11) – The family of man who died in police custody and the city in which he lived continued to wait Wednesday for a decision from a grand jury convened to decide whether the officer involved in the fatal arrest will be indicted.

A grand jury will decide whether Officer Daniel Pantelo will face criminal charges in the death of Eric Garner, who died July 17 while being arrested outside a Staten Island convenience store for allegedly selling loose cigarettes, or “loosies.

Garner’s death at age 43 inspired outrage over officers’ behavior, especially when it comes to the apparent use of a long-prohibited chokehold, which the medical examiner found contributed to Garner’s death.

The jury is deciding whether to indict Pantaleo, but is not determining guilt. That would be decided in a subsequent criminal trial if Pantaleo is indicted.

Speculation has been rampant with theories about when the grand jury’s verdict will be handed down, partly fueled by the spotting of a large police presence in Stapleton, Staten Island, according to the Staten Island Advance.

Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan has asked New Yorkers to be patient, saying the jury has diligently listened to evidence and will decide soon.

Police Commissioner William Bratton said the decision is expected this week.

Stoked by concerns over a similar case in Missouri that touched off days of violent demonstrations, Bratton said he does not anticipate any violence from in New York City once the jury makes its decision.

Ahead of the decision, Garner’s mother called for calm, in an interview with PIX11 News.

Protestors in Ferguson, Missouri – where an unarmed black teen was shot and killed by a white police officer in a case that touched off a nationwide conversation about race and diversity among police forces – set fire to businesses and torched cars in the St. Louis suburb after they learned a grand jury chose not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Carr pleaded with New Yorkers to not repeat that violence in case the grand jury hands down a decision they do not agree with.

“I wouldn’t want them to tear up the town but you know that has to stop,” she said. “They can’t go on killing our sons, our fathers, our brothers of color and getting away with it.”

It’s been nearly five months since Garner’s death and still his mother is shaken by the way her son spent his final moments.

“They treated him like an animal. They treated him worse than an animal,” Carr said. “They left him out in that hot sun to die. They killed him and then EMS showed no mercy.”

Shortly after the fatal encounter, Pantaleo was stripped of his gun and badge and put on modified duty. Four EMS workers who responded to the scene but apparently did not try to resuscitate Garner were suspended without pay.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.