Almost a year after a Staten Island police officer killed Eric Garner, an unarmed African American man who was allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes, the city of New York says it has agreed to pay his family a settlement of $5.9 million.
Garner’s family had sought $75 million in damages, and had reportedly rejected an earlier offer of $5 million last week. And the city had until July 17th, the first anniversary of Garner’s death, to settle the case before the family filed an official lawsuit.
Garner died last year after officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a chokehold, while he was being arrested and wrestled to the ground. During the arrest, Garner pleaded repeatedly, “I can’t breathe.” The incident was caught on camera by a bystander with a cell phone, and the video went viral on social media.
A medical examiner later ruled Garner’s death a homicide, but a Staten Island grand jury did not indict Pantaleo.
Al Sharpton, who has been helping the family resolve the matter, commented, “This is not about people getting money. This is about justice. We’ve got to restructure our police departments and how we deal with policing nationwide.”
Bill de Blasio, the city’s mayor, said “I think we’ve come a long way, even in the last year, in terms of bringing police and community together.” He also mentioned that police officers in the city were in the process of being retrained, and that the city was already making purchases of body cameras for officers to wear.
Meanwhile, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said that while the multi-million dollar settlement “acknowledges the tragic nature of Mr. Garner’s death… the city has not admitted liability.” •