NEW YORK CITY (TIP): Eric Garner’s family has settled with New York City for $5.9 million — nearly a year after the man was put into an apparent chokehold by police in Staten Island and repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe, according to the comptroller’s office. The family of Eric Garner accepted a pretrial settlement from the city Monday, July 13.
“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,” said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, whose office is charged with settling claims against the city.
Cell phone video of the fatal encounter in July 2014 shows Garner, an African-American man, being held on the ground by an NYPD officer in an apparent chokehold. Garner, who had been apprehended for allegedly illegally selling cigarettes, repeatedly yelled, “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe” — words that would later become a rallying cry at anti-police demonstrations.
“We are all familiar with the events that led to the death of Eric Garner and the extraordinary impact his passing has had on our City and our nation,” said Stringer. “It forced us to examine the state of race relations, and the relationship between our police force and the people they serve.”
No officer was indicted in his death, and Stringer said that while the multi-million dollar settlement “acknowledges the tragic nature of Mr. Garner’s death… the city has not admitted liability.”
The incident — and perhaps the subsequent protests — triggered reforms in several areas how police go about their business, particularly in minority communities. Asked about Garner prior to the settlement announcement, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the anniversary of his death was on his mind, as it was with many New Yorkers, but also said “I think the important thing is to stay focused on the work of reform.”
“I think we’ve come a long way, even in the last year, in terms of bringing police and community together,” said de Blasio. “The whole police force is being retrained.”