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District attorney in Eric Garner case will seek Michael Grimm's seat

District attorney in Eric Garner case to run for congressional seat vacated by Michael Grimm

The district attorney who oversaw the investigation into the police-involved death of Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y., announced Friday that he would run for the congressional seat vacated by Michael G. Grimm, who pleaded guilty to federal tax evasion.

Richmond County Dist. Atty. Daniel Donovan Jr. said he decided to enter the race after noticing a groundswell of support for his candidacy over the last week.

"The enthusiasm for my candidacy has only broadened and intensified, with expressions of support also from beyond the two boroughs," he said in a brief statement Friday afternoon. He is the first person to officially announce his candidacy for the seat, which serves Staten Island and part of Brooklyn.

Grimm, a Republican, resigned from Congress this month after pleading guilty to a single charge that stemmed from a 20-count indictment accusing him of defrauding the Internal Revenue Service and concealing more than $1 million in revenue. 

He defeated Democrat Domenic Recchia to win reelection in November in a race that was widely mocked because of Grimm's legal troubles and a series of controversial statements Recchia made during the campaign.

New York's 11th Congressional District would appear tailor-made for the Republican prosecutor; Staten Island is a conservative borough that is home to many police officers and firefighters.

But Donovan also has been on the receiving end of nationwide criticism for his handling of the Garner case. In November, a grand jury declined to indict New York Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo after he used what appeared to be a chokehold, a prohibited police tactic, to subdue Garner during an arrest in July.

Medical examiners ruled Garner's death a homicide and called the officer's actions a major factor.

Beyond aggravation with the grand jury's decision, many have criticized Donovan for releasing little information about the grand jury proceedings.

In New York, only district attorneys or prosecutors can request a release of grand jury information. Donovan requested, and was granted permission, to release only the number of witnesses who testified and the type of evidence they reviewed.

He did not ask for a release of witness transcripts, surveillance video or autopsy reports, 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.

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