NEW YORK (AP) — Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, who handled the Eric Garner chokehold case, said Sunday he hopes Democrats won't make the case an issue as he runs for a vacated congressional seat.
"I would hope that they would respect the fact that there was a man who died, a mother who lost her son and there's a wife who lost her husband and some children who lost their dad," Donovan said on a radio talk show hosted by former mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis.
The Staten Island Republican Party endorsed Donovan on Saturday as its nominee for the seat of disgraced ex-Rep. Michael Grimm. Grimm resigned last month after pleading guilty to tax evasion.
Donovan said his next step is to garner support in parts of Brooklyn that belong to the same 11th Congressional District that includes Staten Island.
After Garner's death in July, Donovan presented evidence to a grand jury that chose not to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer who placed Garner in a chokehold after accusing him of illegally selling loose cigarettes. Garner was black; Pantaleo is white. The decision drew thousands of protesters to the streets of New York.
The jurors in the case "sat for nine weeks and they're the only people who heard all the evidence," Donovan said Sunday. "I think we should respect their decision."
The special election has yet to be scheduled, and it could take months to finalize the process.
Donovan told Catsimatidis his priorities include repairing damage from Superstorm Sandy on Staten Island, where some residents still are unable to rebuild their homes.
"I always say that government should do for people what they can't do for themselves," Donovan said.
In addition, he said, he would concentrate on reforming immigration laws and strengthening anti-terrorism measures — especially in the wake of the attacks last week in Paris.
Democrats have yet to announce a candidate.