-- The Staten Island grand jury hearing testimony in the summertime chokehold death of Eric Garner is expected to vote on whether to charge NYPD cops as early as today, ABC News has learned.
That vote could be delayed. The grand jury could very well want more legal information or to hear from more witnesses. The grand jury is in total control of this closed-door process.
There is no word on when an announcement of the decision would come, though officials are expecting it by the end of the week – perhaps as early as Wednesday. The case is being watched closely since the grand jury in Ferguson last week declined to indict a Missouri cop who shot and killed unarmed teen Michael Brown, touching off violence and protests.
The grand jury has focused on, among other things, the conduct of Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who was seen in a video using a chokehold to bring Garner to the ground after confronting him for selling loose cigarettes. The move was termed a chokehold by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton – a move specifically banned by NYPD policy as well as by police regulations around the country.
Pantaleo's lawyer, Stuart London, expects the special grand jury to vote whether to indict Wednesday.
Pantaleo testified last month. "My client was gratified that they took the time to listen to everything he said and he knows his future is in their hands," London said.
Pantaleo's partner, Justin D'Amico, testified after being granted immunity from prosecution.
The NYPD had no comment Tuesday, but Bratton said in response to a question about possible protests from this case that "people have a right to march and protest. If they engage in actual criminal activity like vandalism and crime, they will be arrested quite simply."
Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan, during an unrelated news conference, would not discuss the grand jury's work but said: "Regardless of what the decision is, I expect there will be some demonstrations."
Pantaleo is on suspension and was stripped of his gun and badge, pending the outcome of the case.