STATEN ISLAND — Police are gearing up for demonstrations on Staten Island ahead of a grand jury decision on criminal charges in the NYPD chokehold death of Eric Garner that could come as early as Wednesday evening, sources said.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton met with clergy and elected officials Monday to plan how to deal with potential emotions that might erupt — and he plans to increase police presence in the days leading up to the decision, he said.
It is unclear how many additional officers will be dispatched in the wake of the decision, but sources said that the grand jury could decide by Wednesday night to indict the officer who wrapped his arm around Garner's neck while arresting him.
"We are planning accordingly in anticipation that the grand jury will probably come back with a decision at some time this week," Bratton said at a Tuesday press conference. "[We] are naturally gearing up to deal with any potential outcome of the trial."
Pantaleo was captured on video wrapping his arm around Garner's neck shortly before he died. The medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide resulting from the use of a chokehold and chest compression.
The testimony signaled that the three-month inquiry is nearing its conclusion.
Should an indictment be handed up Wednesday evening, Pantaleo's lawyer would be notified that the officer must surrender, sources said.
Protests have already been erupting in the city in the wake of the Ferguson, Mo., grand jury decision last month not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for killing unarmed teen Michael Brown.
Approximately 30 people have been arrested during the demonstrations, which have continued for nine days, Bratton said.
"People have the right to protest," Bratton said. "But there have been no major incidents, no vandalism, etc."
"The city should feel quite proud of ourselves."
Garner, 43, died while being arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes in Tompkinsville.
The father of six, a horticulturalist with the city’s Parks Department, can be heard numerous times saying he cannot breathe before he goes silent on his side as paramedics arrive.