Greg Toppo, USA Today, July 13, 2015
Nearly a year to the day after Staten Island police killed an unarmed father of six who was allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes, the City of New York said it had reached a settlement in the case.
The city on Monday agreed to pay the family of Eric Garner $5.9 million, said Scott Stringer, the city’s comptroller.
On July 17, 2014, as officer Daniel Pantaleo held Garner in a chokehold and others wrestled him to the ground, Garner pleaded, “I can’t breathe.” The arrest was caught by a bystander shooting cell phone video, and Garner’s death, along with that of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., a few weeks later, generated months of protests against police overreach in encounters with African-American suspects.
A medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide, but a Staten Island grand jury last December declined to indict Pantaleo.
Several inquiries into Garner’s death are still pending, including investigations by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, the Civilian Complaint Review Board and state health officials, who are looking into the actions of emergency medical responders who treated Garner, The New York Times reported.
Stringer, who has has made a point of resolving civil rights cases quickly to reduce legal fees, said the settlement “is in the best interests of all parties.” While he noted that the city hasn’t admitted liability in the case, he said the settlement “acknowledges the tragic nature of Mr. Garner’s death.”
Garner’s family was expected to lead a rally on Saturday outside the Brooklyn offices of the U.S. attorney to call for a federal case to be brought against the officers involved. The Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network was expected to participate.
“This is not about people getting money,” Sharpton told The Times on Monday. “This is about justice. We’ve got to restructure our police departments and how we deal with policing nationwide.”