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Fury of Eric Garner's family after Attorney General William Barr decides NYC cop will NOT face federal civil rights charges in the unarmed black man's 2014 chokehold death
New York police commissioner has announced the firing of Officer Daniel Pantaleo who used a deadly chokehold while arresting Eric Garner in 2014, a case that fueled the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Police commissioner James O'Neill made the announcement Monday afternoon after weeks of deliberating whether to accept NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado's recommendation that Pantaleo be fired for using the chokehold that was banned by the police department in 1993 on Garner.
O'Neill said it was clear that Pantaleo 'can no longer effectively serve as a New York City police officer'.
'None of us can take back our decisions,' O'Neill said, 'especially when they lead to the death of another human being'.
Eric Garner Case Is Settled by New York City for $5.9 Million
Federal prosecutors announced this morning they will not pursue civil rights charges against a New York City police officer in the 2014 chokehold death of Eric Garner, sparking fury among his family members and activists.
The decision not to bring charges against Officer Daniel Pantaleo comes a day before the statute of limitations was set to expire, on the fifth anniversary of the encounter that led to Garner's death.
Richard Donoghue, US attorney for eastern New York, said at a press conference Tuesday morning that an exhaustive investigation has found there is 'insufficient evidence' to prove 'beyond a reasonable doubt' that Pantaleo acted 'willfully' when applying a chokehold.
A senior Justice Department official said Attorney General William Barr ultimately decided not to side with prosecutors in the Justice Department's civil rights division who wanted to charge Pantaleo.
Family Feud: Widow Of Eric Garner Won’t Acknowledge Baby By Another Woman Who Is First In Line For Potential Settlement Scrilla
New York City reached a settlement with the family of Eric Garner on Monday, agreeing to pay $5.9 million to resolve a wrongful-death claim over his killing by the police on Staten Island last July, the city comptroller and a lawyer for the family said.
The agreement, reached a few days before the anniversary of Mr. Garner’s death, headed off one legal battle even as a federal inquiry into the killing and several others at the state and local level remain open and could provide a further accounting of how he died.
Still, the settlement was a pivotal moment in a case that has engulfed the city since the afternoon of July 17, 2014, when two officers approached Mr. Garner as he stood unarmed on a sidewalk, and accused him of selling untaxed cigarettes. One of the officers used a chokehold — prohibited by the Police Department — to subdue him, and that was cited by the medical examiner as a cause of Mr. Garner’s death.
Mr. Garner’s final words — “I can’t breathe” — repeated 11 times, became a national rallying cry. A Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer who used the chokehold, Daniel Pantaleo, fueled weeks of demonstrations. The protests eased after two police officers in Brooklyn were fatally shot in December by a man who suggested he was avenging the deaths of Mr. Garner and Mr. Brown.
The killings of the officers shook the city anew, deepening tensions between the police and Mayor Bill de Blasio and slowing a push to enact a host of criminal justice reforms. Last year, Mr. Garner’s relatives, including his widow, Esaw Garner, and his mother, Gwen Carr, filed a notice of claim — a procedural step that must precede a lawsuit — against the city. In the notice, they said were seeking $75 million in damages. Since then, the family has been in talks with the comptroller’s office.
“Mr. Garner’s death is a touchstone in our city’s history and in the history of the entire nation,” the comptroller, Scott M. Stringer, said in a telephone interview late on Monday. “Financial compensation is certainly not everything, and it can’t bring Mr. Garner back. But it is our way of creating balance and giving a family a certain closure.”
The family had given the city a deadline of Friday, the anniversary of the death, to come to an agreement or the relatives would move forward with the lawsuit, Jonathan C. Moore, the lawyer for Mr. Garner’s family, said. (In wrongful-death cases, the claimants have two years to file suit.)
CreditMark Kauzlarich/The New York Times
The agreement came after months of halting negotiations. It was among the biggest settlements reached so far as part of a strategy by Mr. Stringer, to settle major civil rights claims even before a lawsuit is filed. He has said the aim is to save taxpayers the expense, and families the pain, of a long legal process. He said five lawyers from his office were involved in the negotiations, which ended on Monday.
But the resolution of the legal claim against the city did not provide any greater clarity on the actions of the officers that day or on the policing strategies that have come under criticism in the year that has followed.
The relatives of Mr. Garner, along with Mr. Moore, are expected to discuss the settlement at a news conference scheduled for Tuesday morning at the Harlem offices of the National Action Network, led by the Rev. Al Sharpton.
On Saturday, Mr. Garner’s family is expected to lead a rally outside the Brooklyn offices of the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York to call for a federal case to be brought against the officers involved in Mr. Garner’s death.
Some of the fatal encounters since 1990 involving New York Police Department officers. Most did not lead to criminal charges.
“This is not about people getting money,” Mr. Sharpton said on Monday. “This is about justice. We’ve got to restructure our police departments and how we deal with policing nationwide.”
The city medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, citing the chokehold and the compression of Mr. Garner’s chest by other officers who held him down.
Several inquiries into Mr. Garner’s death were still pending, including investigations by the United States attorney’s office, the Civilian Complaint Review Board and state health officials, who are looking into the actions of emergency medical responders in treating Mr. Garner.
The Police Department has concluded its internal investigation but has yet to say whether any officers would be disciplined.
CreditHiroko Masuike/The New York Times
The agreement with the city does not cover the private hospital that sent the responders, Richmond University Medical Center. As Mr. Garner lay on the ground, he was not given oxygen. While a hospital spokesman said there were no lawsuits against it over Mr. Garner’s death, Mr. Moore on Monday said the family had also reached a financial settlement with the hospital before a suit was filed; the amount of that agreement was confidential, he said.
“It’s not ‘mission accomplished,’ but at least it brings a measure of justice to the family,” Mr. Moore said.Mr. de Blasio, speaking to reporters shortly before the settlement was reached, said the anniversary of Mr. Garner’s death was on his mind. “I think it’s on the mind of many New Yorkers,” the mayor said. “I think we’ve come a long way, even in the last year, in terms of bringing police and community together.”
After the settlement, Mr. de Blasio said in a statement that he hoped “the Garner family can find some peace and finality” from it.
In recent months, the comptroller’s office has reached major settlements in several cases without a suit being filed, effectively cutting out involvement by the city’s Law Department.
Mr. Stringer reached a $6.4 million deal with David Ranta, who was imprisoned for 23 years after a wrongful-murder conviction, and a $2.25 million settlement with the family of Jerome Murdough, who died in an overheated cell at the Rikers Island jail complex.
But while the approach spares the city and those hurt by it from protracted legal fights, it has come under criticism for sidelining experienced lawyers at the Law Department who might better gauge the city’s legal liability.
“The determination of appropriate damage levels is a complex, nuanced process,” said Victor A. Kovner, a former city corporation counsel. “The notion that the comptroller, without the benefit of that experience, seeks to make these resolutions on his own is in my experience grandstanding and against the city’s interest.”
Mr. Kovner said settlements in wrongful-death and police-brutality cases must take into account the pain and suffering of the person as well as future earnings and financial damage to the family. In the case of Mr. Garner, his apparent suffering in video images would have probably been a major factor in any settlement discussions.
In 2001, a suit brought by Abner Louima, a Haitian man tortured with a broomstick while in police custody at a Brooklyn precinct station house in 1997, was settled for $8.75 million.
That agreement was reached three years into the suit brought by Mr. Louima and came after federal trials in which several officers were convicted in the attack, including one who was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Nearly five years after the killing of Amadou Diallo in 1999, the city settled with his relatives for $3 million. The city settled a suit over the 2006 fatal shooting of Sean Bell for $3.25 million.
Mr. Stringer defended his approach in Mr. Garner’s case, saying it was appropriate in one of such magnitude and importance. “The work of our general counsel and the lawyers involved in this case and others has proved the quality and seriousness of the way we have looked at these cases,” he said. “We don’t settle every case that comes our way.”
Rappers and athletes aren’t the only ones out here with break babies. Apparently NYPD chokehold victim Eric Garner also had a child outside of his marriage and his widow wants nothing to do with her.
According to Daily Mail reports:
She might be Eric Garner’s daughter, but she won’t be part of Garner’s family.
The chokehold victim’s widow, Esaw Garner, acknowledged Friday that a 16-month-old girl named Legacy is her husband’s daughter with another woman — but said she wants nothing to do with the tot or her mother, Jewel Miller.
“As far as her being accepted into our family, that’ll never happen,” Garner told the Daily News when asked about the baby.
Eric Garner had been living with Miller for three years before his fatal encounter with Officer Daniel Pantaleo in Staten Island last July.
The News reported Friday that a DNA test recently confirmed Miller’s assertion that Legacy is Garner’s daughter. That puts her in line for the largest share of any payout the Garner family gets from the city.
“They knew she was his daughter but they didn’t want the public to know so they could keep up the image of the happily married husband and wife together which was the farthest thing from the truth,” Miller said Thursday. “I think it was a public relations thing.”
“And Esaw is just money hungry,” she added.
An angry Esaw Garner kept mostly tight-lipped Friday.
“I know the truth. My kids know the truth,” she said. “We know that’s her baby and fine, that’s what she’s entitled to.”
She declined further comment, saying her lawyer had advised her not to talk.
Eric Garner had four biological children with Esaw, ranging in age from 15 to 25.
The family’s lawyer, Jonathan Moore, is preparing a wrongful death suit against the police officers involved in Garner’s death.
A notice of claim — the first step in filing a lawsuit against the city — filed last year listed Legacy as a potential beneficiary, in addition to Garner’s children with Esaw.
The filing said the family would seek up to $75 million for Garner’s death.
This is such a huge shame. We can understand Garner’s window’s feelings but at the same time — these women and their children are all mourning the same thing, it’s a shame they can’t come together over their loss.