BREAKING NEWS: On Monday, New York City agreed to pay $5.9 million to the family of Eric Garner, the 43 year old African American man killed by Staten Island police officers almost a year ago.
According to CNN, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said
“Following a judicious review of the claim and facts of the case, my office was able to reach a settlement with the estate of Eric Garner that is in the best interests of all parties.”
The New York Times reports that five lawyers conducted the negotiations behind the agreement, preceded by
“months of halting negotiations. It was among the biggest settlements reached so far as part of a strategy by Mr. Stringer, to settle major civil rights claims even before a lawsuit is filed. He has said the aim is to save taxpayers the expense, and families the pain, of a long legal process.”
Almost a year ago, Garner was accused of selling untaxed cigarettes outside a storefront and wrestled to the ground by officer Daniel Pantaleo, who applied an illegal chokehold during the confrontation. Garner died hours later. City medical examiner ruled the death a homicide and concluded that the chokehold administered by Pantaleo contributed to Garner’s death.
Uploaded cell phone footage of the incident set off a mass uproar and demands for an investigation of the NYPD, as well as indictment of officer Pantaleo. In the video, Garner can be heard gasping “I can’t breathe” multiple times, while officers failed to desist the viselike grip and ignored his pleas for help.
The death of Eric Garner and, months later, of Michael Brown, are part of a series of racially-motivated police violence against black men and women, the critique of which fertilizes the #BlackLivesMatter movement currently sweeping the country. Demands for justice in the form of street demonstrations, rallies, and marches contribute to the national debate on discriminatory policing of communities of color and racial bias implicit to American police culture.
Monday’s settlement was reached as the nation approaches the anniversary of Garner’s death, who died on July 17, 2014; however, even as New York City conceded to financial restitution, it has made no admission of liability in the murder of Garner.
“Mr. Garner’s family should not be rewarded simply because he repeatedly chose to break the law and resist arrest,” Mullins concluded
None of this has deterred the family of Eric Garner from seeking justice. Family members will lead a rally on Saturday, to provoke the federal government to pursue cases against the officers involved.