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The prosecutor behind the Eric Garner case will run for Congress

  1. Richmond County District Attorney Dan Donovan will run for Congress to replace outgoing Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), his office announced Friday.
  2. Donovan oversaw the grand jury that did not indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, by putting him in a chokehold.
  3. Grimm resigned from the House following a guilty plea for tax evasion.

Several people are vying for the position

Michael Grimm

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) will resign on January 5. (Andrew Burton / Getty Images News)

State law requires Gov. Andrew Cuomo to call a special election to replace Rep. Grimm, whose resignation took effect on January 5.

Sources previously told New York Daily News that Donovan looks likely to get support from local Republican leaders. "Dan Donovan is emerging as a frontrunner," one party official said. "He is lining up the support of the party heads." The official added, "It seems pretty clear he may emerge as the nominee."

SILive.com reported one possible Republican opponent is New York Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, and potential Democratic opponents include New York Assemblymember Michael Cusick and former US Rep. Michael McMahon.

The non-indictment in the Eric Garner case led to a wave of protests

Eric Garner

The scene of Eric Garner's funeral. (Getty Images News)

A Staten Island grand jury that Donovan led decided on December 3 not to indict New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo for killing Eric Garner by putting the unarmed black 43-year-old in a chokehold.

Garner's death was captured on video. One recording, reported by New York Daily News, shows multiple police officers pulling Garner to the ground, with Pantaleo grabbing the 43-year-old in a chokehold. Garner could be heard saying, "I can't breathe," numerous times before he died. Police justified their actions by arguing Garner was resisting arrest.

Warning: Graphic video footage:

The grand jury's decision to not indict Pantaleo sparked a wave of protests in New York City and around the country. Since the August 9 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, demonstrators have taken to the streets to speak out against what many view as racial disparities in police use of force and the criminal justice system.

To protesters, Donovan's inability to get an indictment — through a process in which prosecutors entirely dictate what evidence the grand jury sees — suggests he never wanted one in the first place. Many have criticized, for example, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch for how he handled the grand jury proceedings over the Brown shooting.

"The old saying is a prosecutor can get an indictment on a ham sandwich," said John Roman, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center. "It's very easy for a prosecutor to get a grand jury to get them to do whatever it is they want them to do."

Read more: Grand juries usually don't indict police officers. Should they be changed?