New York: The family of a black man who died after being placed in a white police officer's chokehold reached a USD 5.9 million settlement with New York City, days before the anniversary of his death.
Eric Garner's family in October filed a notice of claim, the first step in filing a lawsuit against the city, asking for USD 75 million.
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 convenience store 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 Garner's neck to take him to the ground. 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 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 maneuver, not a chokehold.
While the city has a legal department that fields lawsuits, the comptroller's office also can settle claims. Comptroller Scott Stringer has made a point of doing that in civil rights cases, saying that resolving them quickly saves the city money on legal fees.
"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," Stringer said.
The city did not admit to any liability.
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 settlement is confidential. He said there would be a press conference today with the Rev Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist, and the family.
Last month, the comptroller's office agreed to pay USD 6.25 million to a man who spent nearly 25 years in prison before being exonerated in a killing that happened while he was more than 1,000 miles away vacationing at Disney World.