It’s been a year since New York police confronted Eric Garner for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. What happened next would bring about demonstrations and protests across the nation.
The death of Eric Garner, caught on cellphone video, after being put in a prohibited chokehold by Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo would spur emotions and discussions about how police treat black Americans.
A few days before the anniversary of Garner’s death, it was announced by New York City official Scott M. Stringer that $5.9 million would be paid to Eric Garner’s estate for violations of his civil rights, reports The New York Times.
The payment was a decision made by Stringer, a city comptroller, ahead of lawsuits and any decisions made in a civil court by judge. As a comptroller, Stringer has the legal power to pay these funds.
Stringer has approved payments of $37.8 million in the past 15 months in seven high-profile cases that involved “claims of grave abuses of power.” These included Garner’s case and several involving wrongful imprisonment.
By settling civil rights claims swiftly –outside of court – Stringer basically bypasses years of litigation, which saves on legal fees for the city and “general wear and tear on the spirit.”
Stringer indicated in his official statement that “the City has not admitted liability.”
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. We are all familiar with the events that lead to the death of Eric Garner and the extraordinary impact his passing has had on our City and our nation. It forced us to examine the state of race relations, and the relationship between our police force and the people they serve. While we cannot discuss the details of this settlement, and the City has not admitted liability, 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.
Meanwhile Mayor de Blasio insists that Garner “did not die in vain.” The question remains, however, whether Garner’s death has spurred positive change.
NY Post reports that Blasio’s actions after Garner’s tragic death were the opposite of what could have sparked positive change. Instead of standing by the New York police and defending their right to enforce the law while making it clear that resisting arrest is illegal, the mayor demoralized cops which made law-breakers feel justified and created months of tension.
While it remains to be seen if any good came of Garner’s death and subsequent civil unrest and racial discussions, one thing is certain: the city of New York, and the Nation, will never be the same again.