exp sotu.pres.george.bush.on.garner.decision.new.york.police_00002025.jpg
Bush on Garner decision: "How Sad"
01:10 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

George W. Bush called the grand jury's decision in Eric Garner's death 'hard to understand'

He said he discussed racial issues recently with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

Bush said race relations have improved in the U.S. since he grew up in the 1970s

Washington CNN  — 

Former President George W. Bush says a New York grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer who choked and killed Eric Garner was “hard to understand.”

In an interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley, Bush said his reaction to watching video of the incident that led to Garner’s death was “how sad.”

“You know, the verdict was hard to understand,” he said. “But I hadn’t seen all the details – but it’s sad that race continues to play such an emotional, divisive part of life.”

RELATED: George Bush picks Jeb over ‘sister-in-law’ Hillary in 2016

Bush said the United States has improved since the 1970s, when he was young, and said he remembers “race riots with cities being burned.”

Bush discussed the recent racial unrest that followed a Missouri grand jury’s failure to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who is white, in the shooting death of Michael Brown, who was black, over dinner with his former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

“We talked about this subject, and yeah – she just said, you gotta understand that there are a lot of black folks that are incredibly, more and more, distrusting of law enforcement,” Bush said. “Which is a shame, because law enforcement’s job is to protect everybody.”