NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A federal grand jury in Brooklyn has begun hearing evidence in the police chokehold death of Eric Garner to determine if his civil rights were violated.
Garner, who was 43, was stopped on July 17, 2014 outside a Staten Island convenience store because police officers believed he was selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.
A video shot by an onlooker shows Garner telling the officers to leave him alone and refusing to be handcuffed.
NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo then placed his arm around Garner’s neck to take him down. Garner, who had asthma, is heard gasping “I can’t breathe!” 11 times before losing consciousness. He was pronounced dead later at a hospital.
The city medical examiner found the apparent police chokehold contributed to Garner’s death, but a grand jury declined to indict the officer in the death.
According to officials, the NYPD has conducted its own internal affairs investigation.
Sources said the NYPD probe will specifically try to determine whether Pantaleo used a chokehold, which is not illegal in New York, but is against department policy.
Pantaleo has been on modified assignment since the incident.