What Would Have Happened Had The Eric Garner Case Received Another Grand Jury Trial?

Filmmaker Roee Messinger – AMERICAN TRIALNow on Seed & Spark

“I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe!”

 

Tom Kenniff, Esq.: We spent a lot of time, myself and Mr. (Steve) Raiser and my colleagues looking at the evidence in this case, the facts, evaluating what we think we can establish in a Grand Jury and also what we think we can establish in a court room.

Roee Messinger (filmmaker): AMERICAN TRIAL is a hybrid fiction documentary film about the trial that never followed Eric Garner’s death back in 2014. We’re going to use real lawyers and actual witnesses who would have testified had the case been tried to show an accurate and authentic description of what that trial might have looked like.

Priya Chaudhry, Esq: We started this project because I’m a true believer and criminal defense lawyer and I believe that everyone in our country deserves the best defense possible.

Steven Raiser, Esq: In my opinion what is at stake in this case is the integrity of the judicial system.

Carlton Berkeley (former NYPD detective): Officers tend to do what they want to do.

Tom Kenniff, Esq.: …And as a result, an individual is dead.

James Knight (American Trial eyewitness): …And when they put him on the gurney, his eyes were in the back of his head, his arm was hanging off, his leg was hanging off, he was not breathing, he was just limp.

Man on the street: He had 30 previous arrests.

Julie Rendelman, Esq.: People assume, based on watching that video and kind of the uproar that occurred, that he is guilty. And when you walk into a courtroom as a criminal defense attorney, your client is supposed to be presumed innocent.

Esaw Snipes-Garner (wife of Eric Garner): I just appreciate Roee (Messinger). I’m glad I met him and I appreciate him as a friend and a filmmaker and I just give him all my support and all my trust and hope we make this a phenomenal project.

Roee Messinger (filmmaker): We need your help to make this film. If you would like to see AMERICAN TRIAL in theaters, here is what you can do. Visit our campaign page on Seed & Spark and make your contribution. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and let all your friends and family know about us.

CONNECT WITH AMERICAN TRIAL DOCUMENTARY:

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(Originally posted on Seed & Spark for the AMERICAN TRIAL film campaign)

On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner was approached by the NYPD on the streets of Staten Island for selling loose cigarettes. A cell phone video of the incident shows that in an attempt to take Garner into custody, Officer Daniel Pantaleo put his arm around his neck. Despite calling out “I can’t breathe” eleven times, Garner was only released from the officer’s hold after losing consciousness. He was pronounced dead shortly after.

The matter was investigated by a Staten Island grand jury which opted not to indict Pantaleo for any crime.

American Trial seeks to discover what a trial in the Eric Garner case might have taught us. How is our legal system designed to handle cases such as Garner’s? What verdict may have been returned after all the evidence was presented? More importantly, what conversations, perspectives and emotions went unexamined because of the grand jury’s decision?

Similarly to fiction courtroom dramas, the lead characters of this documentary will be the attorneys leading the prosecution and the defense. Our camera will capture them as they develop their public arguments and individual positions. How do they decide which witnesses to summon? How do they prepare for their court appearance? Are there any discrepancies between their systemic role and their true feelings regarding the case?

The film will also follow a news crews covering the trial and reporting on race relations in America within the context of the trial and the movement for black lives. They will travel across America to discover what public figures, intellectuals and activists think about the Eric Garner case, as well as other similar cases through the prism of racial relations in the United States.

The proposed budget for the entire film is $180,000, but we only need $70,000 to get us through the production phase. We’ve already raised $20,000 through private investment which is why our Seed & Spark goal is $50,000.

Just like most productions, the biggest chunk is of course the crew. Our camera and lenses expenses are also quite substantial since we’re going to film the trial as a live event, using a multi camera setup to allow sufficient coverage.

Being the innovative film project that we strive to be, we’re looking to shake things up when it comes to our incentives as well. Like most projects, we will offer the traditional postcard from the set, online screeners and production credits. We will also offer our backers a chance to come to our set and participate in the live shot trial as an audience member or even as a juror!

We also want to encourage you to tell your friends about us, so after you’ve made your contribution (no matter the amount), we will give you a $1 credit toward one of our incentives for every email that you send to a friend or a family member asking them to contribute to our campaign (and cc americantrial@gmail.com). You may not be able to afford $100 and get our delux digital package, but maybe you can contribute $5 and send out 95 emails. If you’d be interested in doing that, please write to us and let us know, so we can offer assistance and support as needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Watch the video here about filmmaker Roee Messinger and his desire to create this powerful documentary film

AMERICAN TRIAL seeks to discover what a trial in the Eric Garner case might have taught us. How is our legal system designed to handle cases such as Garner’s? What verdict may have been returned after all the evidence was presented? More importantly, what conversations, perspectives and emotions went unexamined because of the grand jury’s decision?

Similarly to fiction courtroom dramas, the lead characters of this documentary will be the attorneys leading the prosecution and the defense. Our camera will capture them as they develop their public arguments and individual positions. How do they decide which witnesses to summon? How do they prepare for their court appearance? Are there any discrepancies between their systemic role and their true feelings regarding the case?

The film will also follow a news crews covering the trial and reporting on race relations in America within the context of the trial and the movement for black lives. They will travel across America to discover what public figures, intellectuals and activists think about the Eric Garner case, as well as other similar cases through the prism of racial relations in the United States.

 

 

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