The family of Eric Garner has reached a settlement with the city of New York. According to New York City Comptroller Scott Stinger, the city has agreed to pay the family $5.9 million to settle the lawsuit surrounding Garner’s choking death at the hands of New York police officers.
The Garner family was suing the city of New York for $75 million. Garner, who died 1 year ago this week, was approached by a number of officers who confronted him over selling loose leaf cigarettes. Garner’s death was captured on cell phone video. He was unarmed and told officers more than a dozen times that he could not breathe as the choke hold was applied. Garner’s final words, “I Can’t Breathe”, became a rallying cry in New York and across the nation as part of the Black Lives Matter movement.
On Monday, a statement released by the comptroller’s officer read in part: “Following a judicious review of the claim and facts of this case, my office was able to reach a settlement with the estate of Eric Garner that is in the best interests of all parties.”
Garner’s death was ruled a homicide, but the officer who choked Garner to death was cleared of wrongdoing by a Staten Island grand jury in December. That decision to not indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo sparked protests held by tens of thousands of activists in New York City and across the country.
Stringer said that the settlement doesn’t mean New York City has accepted liability for the death, but he believes the agreement “acknowledges the tragic nature of Mr. Garner’s death while balancing my office’s fiscal responsibility to the City.”
The New York Post reported that Ed Mullins, president of the NYPD union Sergeants Benevolent Association, was critical of the settlement deal. “In my view, the city has chosen to abandon its fiscal responsibility to all of its citizens and genuflect to the select few who curry favor with the city government,” Mullins told the Post. “Mr. Garner’s family should not be rewarded simply because he repeatedly chose to break the law and resist arrest.”