Wednesday 22 November 2017

Family of black choke victim wins $6m payout

Esaw Garner, widow of Eric Garner, wipes away a tear at a news conference in New York
Esaw Garner, widow of Eric Garner, wipes away a tear at a news conference in New York
Eric Garner

Colleen Long in New York

The family of a black man who died after being placed in a white police officer's chokehold have reached a $5.9m (€5.4m) settlement with New York City, days before the anniversary of his death.

Eric Garner's family had asked for $75m last October in their notice of claim, the first step in filing a lawsuit over the incident in which he was heard crying "I can't breathe".

Mr Garner's death sparked demonstrations and became a flashpoint in a national debate about relations between police and minority communities.

Garner, who was 43, was stopped last July 17 outside a shop in the borough of Staten Island 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 Mr Garner's neck to take him to the ground. Mr 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 Mr 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 manoeuvre, not a chokehold.

"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," New York Comptroller Scott Stringer said.

The city did not admit any liability.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said that hopefully Mr Garner's family "can find some peace and finality" from the settlement.

"By reaching a resolution, family and other loved ones can move forward even though we know they will never forget this tragic incident," said Mr de Blasio.

Longtime civil rights attorney Jonathan Moore, the family's lawyer, said there also was a settlement with the Richmond University Medical Center, which responded to the scene. That amount of that settlement is unknown.

Irish Independent

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