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The Eric Garner case has slightly slowed in national momentum but has very much been a point of focus for the slain Staten Island man’s family and several advocacy groups. The Garner family and their supporters were struck with a blow on Monday when New York’s highest court ruled to keep the grand jury transcripts in the case sealed from public view.

Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, was approached on July 17 of last year by NYPD officers for selling loose cigarettes. The encounter turned fatal after Officer Daniel Pantaleo wrestled the large man to the ground using a banned chokehold, eventually leading to Garner’s death. Last December, the grand jury in the case failed to indict Pantaleo, which ignited passionate protests throughout New York and several cities across the nation.

As reported by the New York Times, the New York Court of Appeals wrote in a six-word ruling to seal the transcripts. For the past year, groups such as the N.AA.C.P., the New York Civil Liberties Union, and the Legal Aid Society fought to have the transcripts featuring testimony from the 2014 Pantaleo trial to go public. Last July, the Appellate Division in Brooklyn ruled against releasing the documents.

The grand jury process in notoriously veiled in secrecy, thus why the four-judge panel of the Appellate Division ruled the way it did. The Appeals Court ruling backed that earlier decision but still leaves Garner’s family and supporters in the dark on how the grand jury reached its decision.

Another suit to obtain transcripts was enacted over the summer by the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which was also struck down by a lower court although the group wanted the documents for a private review and not a public showing.

Over the summer, the city of New York agreed to pay the Garner family $5.9 to resolve claims over his death.


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