The city of New York has agreed to pay $5.9m to the family of Eric Garner, the 43-year-old man who died on Staten Island last July after being placed in an illegal chokehold by a police officer. His death refueled the Black Lives Matter movement as quotations of his final words, “I can’t breathe”, were seen across America
“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 in a statement.
The grand jury decision not to hand down an indictment led to widespread protests and tension in the city in December.
Garner’s last words, “I can’t breathe” – which were recorded on video by a bystander – became a rallying call for protests around the country over the deaths of African American men at the hands of police officers, including that of Michael Brown, 18, in Ferguson, Missouri.
A New York police department investigation into the death is reported to have been completed, but no conclusions or disciplinary measures have been announced. A number of other entities are investigating the case, amid calls for federal charges.
Stringer said he could not discuss details of the settlement, and said the city admitted no liability.
He said: “I believe that we have reached an agreement that acknowledges the tragic nature of Mr Garner’s death while balancing my office’s fiscal responsibility to the city.”
The New York Times quoted the Garner family’s attorney, Jonathan Moore, as saying the city had been given until Friday, the anniversary of the death, to come to an agreement or face a lawsuit.