Staten Island's top prosecutor did not ask grand jurors to consider a reckless endangerment charge in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, a source familiar with the case told NBC 4 New York.
District Attorney Daniel Donovan only asked grand jurors to consider manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges against NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, the cop seen on widely-watched amateur video wrapping his arm around Garner's neck as the heavyset, asthmatic 43-year-old yelled, "I can't breathe!" nearly a dozen times during the July 17 confrontation, the source said.
It's not clear why Donovan left the lesser charge off the table, and he has said strict confidentiality laws surrounding grand jury proceedings prevent him from discussing the details of the case.
Donovan had submitted an application to the court seeking authorization to publicly release specific elements of the proceedings but the only information released when a judge granted his request a day later involved the number of exhibits the jurors saw, how long they heard evidence and how many witnesses they heard it from. The application was sealed, so it's not clear if he had petitioned the judge to release information about the charges the jurors considered.
Asked for comment on the charges considered, a spokesman for the district attorney's office referred NBC 4 New York to a statement Donovan released Thursday after the judge's ruling came out that said, in part, he could only release information contained in the court order.
"I respect the court’s exercise of its discretion, and will abide by the court’s order. As such, I will have no further comment in connection with the grand jury proceedings relating to the matter of the investigation into the death of Eric Garner," the statement said.
The grand jury in the Garner case delivered a vote Wednesday of "no true bill," which determined there was not probable cause that Pantaleo committed any criminal offense the panel was tasked with considering. The decision set off protests in New York City and across the country.
The NYPD said it's internal review of the case is ongoing, and the U.S. Department of Justice said it also is investigating.
-Jonathan Dienst contributed to this report.