New York City reached a $5.9 million settlement in the wrongful death claim filed by the family of Eric Garner who was killed by New York City police in Staten Island last July according to the city comptroller, Scott M. Stringer.
The settlement doesn’t mean that the city admits fault in Garner’s death but Stringer believes the agreement “acknowledges the tragic nature of Mr. Garner’s death while balancing my office’s fiscal responsibility to the City.”
Police accused Garner of selling untaxed single cigarettes outside a Staten Island store and when Garner refused to be put in handcuffs, officers tackled him to the ground while one officer Daniel Pantaleo had Garner in a chokehold. His last words “I can’t breathe” became the chant that protestors shouted while rallying in the streets across the country.
The city medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide siting the chokehold which compressed his airway was the cause of his death. The grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Pantaleo riled the community and led to a series of anti-police brutality protests throughout the US.
Last year, Garner’s family, including his widow and his mother filed a notice of claim against the city seeking $75 million in damages. A notice of claim has to be filed before a lawsuit can be filed. The family has been in talks with the comptroller’s office and set a deadline for the city of July 17, 2015, the one year anniversary of Garner’s death.
After months of negotiations, one of the biggest settlements to resolve a civil rights claim before a lawsuit is filed was determined at $5.9 million. While the settlement is a good step forward, it is still not clear whether any of the officers involved in the incident will face any disciplinary actions.