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Grand jury nears decision on NYPD chokehold death

Eric Garner

AP Photo/Family photo via National Action Network

Update: No charges for NYPD officer in Eric Garner chokehold death case

NEW YORK - A New York City grand jury is quietly nearing a decision in a case that has drawn comparisons to the police killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

The panel on Staten Island heard testimony last week from a police officer involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner. He was believed to be the last witness.

The Staten Island district attorney won't comment on the proceedings that will determine whether the officer will face criminal charges. But an announcement is expected before the end of the year.

Garner, 43, a father of six, died during an arrest July 17 for allegedly selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. A widely watched amateur video shows one of the arresting officers wrapping his arm around Garner's neck as he is taken to the ground - while Garner shouts, "I can't breathe."

The New York City Medical Examiner's Office found Garner's death was caused by compression of neck and chest, and his prone positioning during physical restraint by police. Asthma, heart disease and obesity were listed as contributing factors. His manner of death was ruled homicide.

Chokeholds are banned under New York Police Department policy. In the wake of Garner's death, New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton vowed to retrain officers on the use of force.

Following the incident, two NYPD officers - including Officer Daniel Pantaleo, the one who allegedly put his arm around Garner's neck - were placed on desk duty and four emergency workers involved in the medical response for Garner were suspended without pay pending an investigation.

Officer Pantaleo has been sued by three men in federal court over allegedly unlawful, racially motivated arrests within the past two years, court records show. Following Garner's death, the NYPD said it stripped Pantaleo of his gun and badge.