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NYC reaches $5.9 million settlement with Eric Garner's family, officials say

Esaw Garner, wife of Eric Garner, speaks alongside

Esaw Garner, wife of Eric Garner, speaks alongside the Rev. Al Sharpton during a service for her husband at the Mount Sinai Center for Community Enrichment on Saturday, July 19, 2014, in Staten Island. Photo Credit: AP / John Minchillo

New York City officials Monday announced a $5.9 million settlement with the family of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man whose death while being restrained during an NYPD arrest set off waves of national protest over police brutality in the treatment of unarmed black men.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer announced last evening that his office reached the agreement between the 43-year-old man's family and the NYPD after the family filed a notice of claim over Garner's death nearly a year ago.

"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," Stringer said in a statement.

Garner died after Officer Daniel Pantaleo placed him in an apparent chokehold on July 17, 2014, while being arrested in Staten Island for allegedly selling loose cigarettes.

The arrest was captured on video in which Garner is heard saying "I can't breathe" 11 times before passing out -- words that became a touchstone for protesters who chanted it during marches. The city medical examiner's office ruled his death a homicide.

Garner died weeks before Michael Brown was shot during a confrontation with an officer in Ferguson, Missouri, fueling nationwide anger over the fatalities of unarmed black men in encounters with police.

On Dec. 3, a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo, sparking days of protests throughout the city, and later other cities. Pantaleo has since been on desk duty.

Garner's family filed a notice of claim against the city in October, saying they intended to file a suit seeking $75 million in damages. They had up to Friday to file the suit.

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association didn't return calls.

Jonathan C. Moore, who represents the Garner estate in the lawsuit, said there would be a news conference at the National Action Network headquarters this morning about the settlement. The Rev. Al Sharpton plans to be with the Garner family Saturday outside federal court in Brooklyn to call for an expedited federal investigation in the death. Federal officials announced a civil rights probe in December.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said despite the settlement, the tragedy would not be forgotten, saying, "No sum of money can make this family whole, but hopefully the Garner family can find some peace and finality from today's settlement."

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said the settlement was "one step of many that our city must take to ensure that no more families need suffer this pain," and called for more reforms.

A source familiar with the settlement said the Garner family also reached a settlement with the Richmond Hill Medical Center, which sent the medical personnel to July 17 scene.

--With John Riley

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