NEW YORK (AP) — The family of a black man who died after being placed in a white police officer’s chokehold reached a $5.9 million settlement with the city on Monday, days before the anniversary of his death.
Eric Garner’s family in October filed a notice of claim, the first step in filing a lawsuit against the city, asking for $75 million.
Garner, who was 43, was stopped last July 17 outside a Staten Island convenience store because police officers believed he was selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. A video shot by an onlooker shows Garner telling the officers to leave him alone and refusing to be handcuffed.
An officer, Daniel Pantaleo, placed his arm around Garner’s neck to take him to the ground. Garner, who had asthma, is heard gasping “I can’t breathe!” 11 times before he loses consciousness. He was pronounced dead later at a hospital.
The city medical examiner found that the police chokehold contributed to Garner’s death. But a grand jury declined to indict the officer in the death. A federal probe is ongoing.
Chokeholds are banned by New York Police Department policy. Pantaleo says he used a legal takedown maneuver, not a chokehold.
Garner’s death sparked demonstrations and became a flashpoint in a national debate about relations between police and minority communities.
While the city has a legal department that fields lawsuits, the comptroller’s office also can settle claims. Comptroller Scott Stringer has made a point of doing that in civil rights cases, saying that resolving them quickly saves the city money on legal fees.