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NYC Reaches Agreement in Fatal Police Chokehold Case

  • VOA News

File - Esaw Snipes, the wife of police victim Eric Garner, wipes away tears as she speaks during a panel on police brutality at the 16th National Action Network’s annual national convention opening, April 2015.

File - Esaw Snipes, the wife of police victim Eric Garner, wipes away tears as she speaks during a panel on police brutality at the 16th National Action Network’s annual national convention opening, April 2015.

New York City will pay $5.9 million to the family of Eric Garner, a black man whose death at the hands of a white police officer last year sparked protests over abusive treatment of African-Americans by law enforcement.

New York City's chief financial officer, Comptroller Scott Stringer, announced the agreement Monday, and Mayor Bill de Blasio said he hopes the settlement will bring "some peace and finality" to Garner's family, as the one-year anniversary of his death approaches.

Family members filed a claim asking for $75 million in damages nine months ago. The city's statement said an agreement now "is in the best interest of all parties," and added that the city was not admitting liability in the case.

Garner, who was 43, collapsed and stopped breathing last year when he was being arrested him on a relatively minor charge, selling untaxed loose cigarettes on a street. A police officer put Garner in a chokehold and other uniformed officers wrestled him to the ground.

In a cellphone video taken of the incident, Garner could be heard saying "I can't breathe" 11 times before he lost consciousness.

The New York police department prohibits officers from using chokeholds because of the risk of suffocation.

Garner's death was ruled a homicide by the city's medical examiner, but a grand jury declined to bring charges against the police officers. His death was one of several in recent years involving unarmed black men at the hands of police officers.

In another incident last year, Michael Brown, 18, was shot and killed after a confrontation with a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Protesters issued a demand for an end to racial bias among police officers and holding police officers responsible for their actions.

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