Following a grand jury's decision not to indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner, two New York legislators said Friday they plan to introduce a bill that would force prosecutors to release grand jury proceedings.
In a statement published on her Facebook page Friday afternoon, State Sen. Diane Savino said the bill would require New York prosecutors to publicize transcripts of witness testimony and other evidence presented to a grand jury without a judge's consent.
Assemblyman Matthew Titone joined Savino in calling for the new law.
The court allowed Donovan to disclose the type of evidence reviewed by the grand jury and the number of witnesses who testified. But transcripts of witness testimony, Garner's autopsy report, the exact charges Donovan pursued against Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo and other critical information remains secret.
In a later interview with the Los Angeles Times, Savino said the bill would force prosecutors to make all information connected to a grand jury presentation public, eliminating law enforcement from the decision process.
"We believe it should be made public upon the completion of the grand jury, because if you allow the prosecutors to have discretion, then you run into the same problem you had in this case," Savino said.
Many have criticized Donovan for the limited application, a stark contrast to St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch's decision to release all the evidence presented to a grand jury that considered charges against Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Mo., police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown.
Savino said the bill will likely be introduced by next week, and the state legislature returns to session in January. Since criminal trials in New York are open to the public, Savino said she sees no reason for grand jury proceedings to be secret.
"If that grand jury had returned an indictment, that criminal trial in New York is completely transparent," Savino said. "There's a definite inconsistency in this approach."
Both killings were part of a wave of police-involved shootings that have sparked nationwide protests and ignited a conversation on race and law enforcement policy.