The family of Eric Garner held a press conference Tuesday to discuss the $5.9 million settlement it reached with New York City days before the one-year anniversary of his death—and to renew calls to criminally charge the police officer who put Garner in a fatal chokehold last July.
Garner, an unarmed 43-year-old black man, died on July 17, 2014 after white New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo used a chokehold to subdue him on a Staten Island sidewalk. In cell phone videos from the scene, Garner can be heard yelling “I can’t breathe!” 11 times before he loses consciousness. A grand jury in December refused to indict Pantaleo, despite the fact that chokeholds are prohibited in the NYPD patrol guide and that the city medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.
The New York Daily News described the settlement struck between Garner’s family and city comptroller Scott Stringer as “a reasonable financial recognition of the city’s responsibility in the death of a man whose fatal encounter with police became to many a national example of racially biased and excessive law enforcement.”
In a statement released Monday, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said: “No sum of money can make this family whole, but hopefully the Garner family can find some peace and finality from today’s settlement. By reaching a resolution, family and other loved ones can move forward even though we know they will never forget this tragic incident.”
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But at a press conference in New York on Tuesday alongside civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton, Garner’s widow, Esaw Garner, and mother, Gwen Carr said greater accountability was still needed. “No federal charges have been filed against the officer who killed Mr. Garner, and the settlement with the city does not establish justice,” the family and Sharpton said in a statement.
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