Judge Andrew Napolitano, the senior judicial analyst for Fox News, said Wednesday that he was shocked by a grand jury's decision not to indict a New York City police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, describing Garner's death as "criminally negligent homicide."
"I think it is clearly a case for criminally negligent homicide," Napolitano said during a Wednesday segment of "The Hugh Hewitt Show."
"This is not Ferguson, Missouri," Napolitano continued. "This is not somebody wrestling for your gun, this is not where you shoot or be shot at. This is choking to death a mentally impaired, grossly obese person whose only crime was selling cigarettes without collecting taxes on them. This does not call for deadly force by any stretch of the imagination." (It was not clear why Napolitano described Garner as "mentally impaired.")
Napolitano said he was taken aback by the grand jury's decision, which was made public on Wednesday. He added that the decision suggests Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan never wanted an indictment to happen.
"If any DA wants an indictment, he can get one," Napolitano said. "The cliche is that a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich."
Garner, 43, died July 17 in Staten Island, New York while he was being arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes. A bystander's video of the arrest shows New York City police Officer Daniel Pantaleo appearing to put Garner in a chokehold, a move that is prohibited under NYPD policy. In the video, Garner screams “I can’t breathe!” multiple times before his body goes limp. A medical examiner later ruled his death a homicide.
This is the second recent high-profile case in which a grand jury declined to indict a white police officer in the killing of an unarmed black civilian, following last week's decision in the case of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
A nationwide series of protests erupted immediately following the grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson, who fatally shot an unarmed Brown on Aug. 9. New York officials braced for similar protests on Wednesday.
While the reaction to the Ferguson grand jury decision largely broke down along party lines, with many conservatives agreeing that Wilson should not have faced trial, Napolitano, a libertarian, is one of a number of conservatives who have expressed outrage at the grand jury's decision in the Garner case, The Huffington Post's Ryan Reilly reports.
Garner's family plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the city seeking $75 million in damages.