A New York appeals court is considering whether to release the grand jury records in the controversial case of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man who was died last year after being put in a headlock by a New York police officer.
A three-judge panel heard arguments on Tuesday in a Brooklyn court, the Associated Press reported.
A Staten Island judge ruled in March to keep the grand jury records sealed — as is common procedure — but that decision was appealed by several organizations, including the New York Civil Liberties Union, Legal Aid Society and the Public Advocate’s office.
A grand jury decided not to charge NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo in Mr Garner’s death, prompting days of protests in New York and around the US.
Officer Pantaleo and a group of other officers accosted Mr Garner outside a Staten Island bodega for allegedly selling loose cigarettes, a crime in New York.
Video of the altercation shows Mr Pantaleo put Mr Garner in a headlock and taking him to the ground. Mr Garner — an asthmatic — can be heard repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe”. He later died at the hospital.
Grand jury deliberations typically are kept sealed, but Public Advocate Letitia James has called on the appeals court to lift the shroud of secrecy, according to the AP.
“Secrecy breeds suspicion, and sunshine really is the best disinfectant,” she said.
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