Daniel Donovan, the Staten Island district attorney who failed to convince a grand jury to bring charges against the police officer who killed Eric Garner, said on Sunday that he felt bad for the jurors who had to make the decision and urged respect for Garner's family in his upcoming congressional race.
In his first interview after earning the backing of the Staten Island GOP, Donovan said the grand jury's decision should be respected.
"No one likes to serve on juries, but they upheld their civic duty and they sat for nine weeks, and they're the only people that heard all the evidence, and they're the only people that deliberated," he said in an interview on John Catsimatidis' radio show, according to the New York Daily News. "I think we should respect their decision. You may not agree with it, but you ought to respect it."
Donovan announced Friday that he was running for the seat vacated by Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.). Grimm, who was re-elected to his seat in November, announced that he would resign last month after pleading guilty to tax fraud.
Donovan said in the radio interview that he isn't sure if his opponents will attack him over the way he handled the case, but said they should be respectful of Garner's family. He called Garner's family his "first priority."
"I would hope that they would respect the fact that there was a man who died, and a mother who lost her son, and there's a wife who lost her husband, and some children who lost their dad," he said.
Police officer Daniel Pantaleo killed Garner in July by placing him in a chokehold and wrestling him to the ground. A bystander captured the unarmed Garner saying, "I can't breathe," as he was wrestled to the ground, but a grand jury decided not to bring charges against Pantaleo last month. The decision sparked a wave of protests across the country.
After the grand jury decision, Garner's widow, Esaw, said ''there was no sincerity from day one" from Donovan or the Staten Island police.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) recently told The Huffington Post that Donovan's handling of the case should be raised as an issue in his campaign.
"I certainly think that his entire public record, including what happened and did not happen in the context of the grand jury investigation into Eric Garner's death, is something that should be heavily scrutinized," he said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has yet to call a special election for Grimm's seat, and it's not clear which Democrat will challenge Donovan.