The family of Eric Garner, an unarmed man who died last year after being placed in a police chokehold, has agreed to a settlement with New York City for $5.9 million, authorities announced Monday.
This settlement was “in the best interests of all parties” Scott M. Stringer, the New York City comptroller, said in a statement.
“We are all familiar with the events that lead to the death of Eric Garner and the extraordinary impact his passing has had on our city and our nation,” Stringer said. “It forced us to examine the state of race relations, and the relationship between our police force and the people they serve.”
Stringer said the city did not admit liability, but he added that the agreement “acknowledges the tragic nature of” Garner’s death.
In December, a Staten Island grand jury declined to bring charges in Garner’s death, clearing the police officer who was captured on video appearing to use the prohibited chokehold maneuver. Garner was being arrested by police officers for selling loose cigarettes.
After video footage of Garner struggling to breathe was posted by the New York Daily News, it spread widely across social media and prompted outrage and protests. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) briefly delayed his vacation to discuss what he called a “terrible tragedy.”
Garner’s death became part of a larger national discussion regarding how police officers use lethal force, particularly toward minorities. Weeks after Garner’s death, an even larger wave of protests followed the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old in Ferguson, Mo., and these episodes were followed by incidents from Cleveland to Los Angeles.
When the grand jury cleared Officer Daniel Pantaleo, it prompted another wave of protests, which occurred not long after demonstrations erupted over a grand jury in Missouri declining to charge the officer who shot and killed Brown.
In New York, prompted by Garner’s death and other incidents, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced last week that he would appoint a special prosecutor — the state’s attorney general — to investigate the deaths of unarmed people who die at the hands of police.
Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, had criticized the idea of limiting a special prosecutor’s purview in an op-ed published by the New York Daily News two days before Cuomo made his announcement.
The settlement comes four days before the first anniversary of Garner’s death. Jonathan C. Moore, an attorney for the Garner family, told the New York Times that if no settlement was reached by then, a lawsuit would have been filed.