The New York Police Department is preparing for demonstrations as a Staten Island grand jury could vote as early as today on whether to bring charges in the case of Eric Garner, whose death in July from a police chokehold prompted protests and set off a debate over policing tactics, the New York Times reports. The death of Garner, who was black, inflamed tensions between the NYPD and minority communities. Less than three weeks later, after Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Mo. Months of demonstrations followed, and last week there were riots in Ferguson and across the country after a grand jury declined to indict the officer.
Stuart London, the lawyer representing officer Daniel Pantaleo in the Garner case, said Pantaleo was the last to testify and is the only officer facing indictment. Much of the police encounter with Garner, 43, was captured on video by bystanders, and the sight of him struggling with the officers and then struggling to breathe helped fuel outrage over his death. Legal experts and former prosecutors have said that despite the medical examiner's ruling the death a homicide, murder charges would be unlikely. Officers are generally given wide latitude to use force, though Police Department policy specifically prohibits chokeholds.