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In almost every article I've read about the decision of the grand jury not to bring charges over the death of Eric Garner, it's taken for granted that the jury did see the video footage of his death.

Is there any evidence confirming that this assumption is actually true?

Do we know that the prosecutor did definitely show that video as evidence of how Mr Garner died?


Here are two examples (among many) of commentary which assume that the grand jury did see the video before reaching their verdict:

The Economist:

...it seems shocking that the video of the police officer using the deadly chokehold was not enough to warrant an indictment

The New Yorker:

New York needs to know why the grand jury turned away from what everyone else saw

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This is a partial answer I found while researching the question.


Ramsey Orta, who shot the video, reported to the NY Daily News that he was invited to discuss the video with the grand jury - and that they did show the video.

It's not clear if this is the first or only time the jurors saw the video, and it's also not made certain that the whole video was shown. He doesn't mention precisely which parts were shown, and he suggested that his discussion of the video was cut short:

“They actually cut my time short,” Orta said. “My lawyer told me I was supposed to be in there for at least a half an hour and I only stayed maybe 10 minutes.”

He does mention his surprise that the jurors asked no questions about the police actions or how Garner died, but instead focused on the very start - on what Garner (and Orta) had been doing before the police approached:

"The whole thing was just about Eric — why was he selling cigarettes, did you know he was selling cigarettes?"

...

“What was Eric doing there? Why was Eric there? Nothing pertaining to the cop choking him,”

...

"One grand juror asked me, ‘If you knew he was selling cigarettes, why didn’t you tell him the cops was there?’"

...

“Maybe three [jurors asked questions], that’s all. The rest of them, they weren’t even worried about nothing.”


So, this is evidence that at least some of the video was shown - but it does leave two things unknown:

  • It's not certain from this alone that the whole video was shown
  • It's not certain that the video was ever presented as being evidence of how Mr Garner died. Orta's account would also fit the video being presented only in the context of some other element of the case, such as the reasons for Garner being initially approached by the police.
  • Orta also claimed in this interview that jurors “were on their phones” during his testimony, which is unlikely enough to cast doubt on other things he said. But even he admits the jury saw at least some of the video. – J. C. Salomon Dec 17 '14 at 16:58
  • Actually, it's regular court hearings where jurors aren't allowed to bring phones. Most grand jury hearings are not in a regular court house, and grand jurors are often allowed to bring phones and use them if they like (but usually not for filming or photography). I think policies vary between districts, but I've seen lots of comments from ex-grand jurors in NY who said they were surprised to be allowed to bring their phones. – user568458 Dec 17 '14 at 21:15
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According to CNN, the Grand Jury saw at least 4 videos:

"We now know the Grand Jury saw four videos..." – Eric Garner video: What the grand jury saw (1:07)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlcnuVtxneg&feature=youtu.be&t=1m7s

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    That's a link to "This video has been removed by the user." – ChrisW Dec 9 '14 at 19:57
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    There's a transcript here which says "We now know today there were four videos that the grand jury saw " but I don't know how "we know that" nor which are the "four videos" that the jury saw. – ChrisW Dec 9 '14 at 20:04
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    @ChrisW Well that happened quick, I was seriously watching that video this morning. – politicallyincorrect Dec 9 '14 at 20:20

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