US & Canada

NYC chokehold death testimony will not be made public

Erica Garner, left, daughter of chokehold death victim Eric Garner, and his mother Gwen Carr, talk to the press after attending a court hearing, in the Staten Island borough of New York 5 February 2015 Image copyright AP
Image caption Eric Garner's family hoped for the testimony to become public

A New York judge has refused to make public the evidence a grand jury heard about the death of a black man held in a police "chokehold".

Justice William Garnett said those suing did not make a "compelling and particularised need'' to release the records, which are usually kept secret.

The jury did not charge Officer Daniel Pantaleo for Eric Garner's death.

His death, alongside other similar cases, led to nationwide protests over police brutality.

Garner was stopped by police for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes in Staten Island in August and placed in a chokehold by Mr Pantaleo.

In a witness video, Garner, who had asthma, is heard saying "I can't breathe". A city medical officer later ruled the death a homicide stemming from the effects of the chokehold.

The New York Civil Liberties Union and other groups who argued for the records' release said there was a need to reconcile the widely watched video of the arrest with the decision not to indict.

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Media captionFootage of the arrest sparked national outrage - Nick Bryant reports

But Richmond County District Attorney Daniel Donovan said those who testified had an expectation of secrecy, and making their testimony public could damage the credibility of prosecutors in the future.

In statement on Thursday, Mr Donovan's office said: "We respect and will adhere to Judge Garnett's well-reasoned decision."

Similar records were released for a Missouri grand jury investigating the death of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson.

St Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch released the records, with witness names redacted, after the jury declined to charge Officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown, 18.