The family of Eric Garner, a man who was killed by New York City Police over selling individual cigarettes on the streets when several officers tackled him and put him in a chokehold, will receive a $4 million payment from the city in a wrongful death settlement.
The New York Post reports:
A Staten Island judge approved nearly $4 million in payments to the family of Eric Garner from a $5.9 million wrongful death settlement with the city, according to lawyers involved in the case.
The judge is still weighing how much to award in attorneys fees, according to attorney Lorraine Coyle who represents Garner’s 3-year-old daughter, Legacy Jayleen Garner-Miller.
Garner’s youngest child and his widow, Esaw Snipes, will received [sic] the largest shares, according to family attorney Jonathan Moore.
Snipes will receive around $1.4 million while Garner-Miller will get close to $1.3 million, according to Moore.
“I’m very happy that Legacy is going to be getting an increase in funds from what was originally proposed,” Coyle said, adding that the original amount was under $1 million.
Garner’s other daughters– Erica and Emerald Snipes– will each be paid $163,600. Their older brother Eric will get $204,00 and their younger brother Emery, who is a minor, will receive $482,000.
Finally Garner’s mom Gwen Carr, who is overseeing her late son’s estate, will get $82,0000.
The money will be paid out over the next 90 days in the form of annuities or annual installments, Coyle told The Post.
A grand jury was deciding whether or not NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo should face criminal charges in the chokehold death of Staten Island resident Eric Garner.
Garner’s death was caught on video by at least two witnesses.
Witnesses described the incident:
“They ran up on him and got rough right away. He wasn’t fighting back,” said witness Gordon Benson, 33.
“When he was on the ground, they kept holding him by the neck.”
“They jumped him and they were choking him. He was foaming at the mouth,” Orta said. “And that’s it, he was done. The cops were saying, ‘No, he’s OK, he’s OK.” He wasn’t OK.”
“They were choking him. He kept saying, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe! Get off of me, get off of me!’ and I didn’t hear any more talking after that,” said witness Valencia Griffin, 50, of Staten Island. “He died right there.”
The medical examiner ruled the man’s death a homicide.
Judge Andrew Napolitano said that he believes New York Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo who applied a chokehold to Eric Garner, which later resulted in his death, should have been indicted by a grand jury for excessive force.
“My thoughts are that this should have been an indictment,” Napolitano said. “And it should have been an indictment for some form of manslaughter. It’s not first-degree murder. It’s not second-degree murder, but it’s certainly reckless manslaughter because of the excessive use of deadly force on a person who posed no serious or material threat to the police.”
Napolitano confessed that he had not seen all of the reports, including medical reports, nor had he heard what the grand jury was given nor what the district attorney said to the grand jury.
However, he said that based on the video recording alone and the fact that Eric Garner posed no threat to the police, Napolitano believed the use of excessive force, which resulted in Garner’s death, was unjustified.
“Yes, he was resisting arrest,” Napolitano said. “But he had no means to threaten the police. He had no deadly force in his hands.”
The judge added, “This is not a case like in Ferguson where there was a struggle for the gun and the police ended up with the gun rather than the other person. This is a case of a poor, sorry individual doing nothing more than selling untaxed cigarettes and as a result of government intervention, he’s dead.”
“This is not a fair application of the law,” said Napolitano, reaffirming his caveat that his opinion was based solely on the video.
Garner was known to have severe asthma and a long arrest record, most of those were for selling loose cigarettes, though none of his arrests were for violence. Therefore, NYPD was familiar with who he was, and probably were aware of his health issues as a result since he was forced to quit his job as horticulturist for the city.
While not an admission of guilt, the people of New York City are paying a steep price for the conduct of the officers involved and for an utterly stupid law that would arrest a man for selling loose cigarettes.