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Hearing Held On Requests For Release Of More Information In Eric Garner Case

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Protesters gathered to demand answers Monday as a judge held a brief hearing on requests for more information to be released in the Eric Garner case.

Protesters rallied with signs, banners and instruments outside the State Supreme Court in Staten Island during the hearing, calling on records from the Garner grand jury proceedings to be unsealed.

"Millions of people saw that video, know that there were no indictments and now wonder what did the grand jury do and how did they do it," protester Bill Dobbs told CBS2's Diane Macedo. "That's why it's critical to release these grand jury records."

Hearing Held On Requests For Release Of More Information In Eric Garner Case

"I would like transparency to see what actually happened with my son," said Garner's mother Gwen Carr.

The Legal Aid Society, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James and the New York Civil Liberties Union all filed petitions seeking the release of transcripts, instructions given to the grand jury and evidence presented to the grand jury.

The court is now scheduled to hear their arguments in the case on Jan. 29, 1010 WINS' Juliet Papa reported.

Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, died after he had been stopped by police on Staten Island for allegedly selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.

Hearing Held On Requests For Release Of More Information In Eric Garner Case

In cellphone video of the incident, Officer Daniel Pantaleo is seen placing his arm around Garner's neck in an apparent chokehold and then taking him to the ground after Garner refuses to be handcuffed.

The heavyset Garner, who had asthma, is heard saying repeatedly, "I can't breathe!" He died a short time later.

The New York City Medical Examiner's office ruled Garner's death a homicide, caused by the officer's apparent chokehold as well as chest and neck compressions and prone positioning "during physical restraint by police."

Police union officials and Pantaleo's lawyer have said he used an authorized take down move and not a chokehold against Garner, which is banned under NYPD policy, and said Garner's poor health was a main cause in his death.

In December, a grand jury ruled not to indict Pantaleo in connection with Garner's death. The decision set off nationwide protests and triggered immediate calls for the grand jury records to be unsealed.

The judge initially agreed to disclose only limited information, saying the confidentiality of the grand jury proceedings must be ensured in order for them to continue to be effective.

"There is need for secrecy with regard for some things. But there is no reason, for example, that the behavior of the district attorney should be in the shadows, should be without any accountability to the public," NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said.

The DA's office plans to oppose, maintaining secrecy is the law, WCBS 880's Jim Smith reported.

The original judge was scheduled to hear arguments on Dec. 19, but instead recused himself from the case citing a potential conflict of interest involving his wife.

Those hoping for the proceedings to be unsealed are pointing to the Michael Brown grand jury case in Ferguson, Missouri as an example.

The prosecutor there released far more details about the grand jury decision's not to indict the officer in that case. Supporters say the same should happen in New York.

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