Richmond County District Attorney
Richmond County District Attorney

The Staten Island District Attorney who failed to get an indictment for the cop involved in the “chokehold” death of Eric Garner says he is "seriously considering" a run for Congress.


Dan Donovan, the prosecutor who handled the Garner case, said in a statement Tuesday morning that he was weighing a bid to replace Rep. Michael Grimm (R-New York), who announced Monday night that he would resign weeks after pleading guilty to one count of tax evasion.

“Last night and this morning, with the announcement that a vacancy will exist, my phone has been ringing off the hook,” Donovan said in the statement. “I am deeply flattered by the enthusiastic expressions of support I have received over the last 12 hours, and I am very seriously considering the race.”


Donovan gained national recognition after he did not secure an indictment against New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo, who put Garner, an unarmed black man, in a choke hold while trying to arrest him. The incident resulted in Garner's death. A grand jury declined to indict the officer, who New York’s medical examiner ruled had put Garner in a fatal “chokehold.”

The non-indictment in early December spawned an ongoing wave of protests in New York and throughout the nation. But it may have aided Donovan within his district. Polls showed that just 42 percent of Staten Island residents supported bringing charges against Pantaleo, a sharp contrast with the rest of New York City’s five boroughs.

A lawyer for the Garner family, Jonathan Moore, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday morning.

The incident has caused friction between the New York City Police Department and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who spoke out on problems between the department and minority citizens.


Inside the Staten Island-centric congressional district, Donovan is viewed with fair popularity, according to local Republicans familiar with the district. He won a third term as district attorney in 2011, grabbing 70 percent of the vote. He lost a bid to become New York’s attorney general in 2010, however, succumbing to Democratic candidate and current Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Other possible candidates for Grimm’s seat include Republican assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, a 34-year-old who is considered a rising star within the Republican Party. Democratic Assemblyman Mike Cusick is one common name who’s viewed as a potential challenger to the Republican.


Donovan said he would “make an announcement after the due deliberation such an important decision deserves.”

Brett LoGiurato is the senior national political correspondent at Fusion, where he covers all things 2016. He'll give you everything you need to know about politics, with a healthy side of puns.

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