The family of Eric Garner -- still using the services of the law firm of embattled attorney Sanford Rubenstein -- filed a $75 million notice of claim Monday against the city and several NYPD officers over Garner's death this summer from an apparent chokehold.
Six officers, including Daniel Pantaleo who was seen on a video using his forearms to take down Garner during an arrest on July 17 in Staten Island, were named as respondents in the four-page notice filed with the city Comptroller's Office. The city, the NYPD and other unnamed officers were also listed as respondents.
The notice states that the cops "negligently and recklessly choked Eric Garner" after wrestling him to the ground, asphyxiating him with a "chokehold" despite his repeated exclamations that "I can't breath."
Listed as claimants were Garner's wife, Esaw Snipes, and her children whose names were redacted. A spokesman for Comptroller Scott Stringer said the case was under review.
Such a notice must be filed before any lawsuit can be filed against the city and was widely expected in legal circles. Rubenstein, along with the Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action Network, had been championing the family's cause from the time Garner died. But Sharpton has distanced himself from Rubenstein since last week when law enforcement officials said Manhattan prosecutors are looking into allegations that the lawyer raped a woman who was a NAN official.
The Manhattan DA's office has declined to comment.
Tuesday, Sharpton was quick to issue a statement that Rubenstein's law firm of Rubenstein & Rynecki in Brooklyn had planned to file the notice of claim long before allegations arose against the attorney.
"It in no way reflects their [Garner family] decision or the decision of the National Action Network or other supporters determination of the legal counsel that will represent the family going forward, in light of the issues around Sanford Rubenstein," Sharpton said.
"No one should read anything else into it," he added.
Sharpton said he and the Garner family would disclose on Saturday Rubenstein's future status in the case. Legal experts said that the options included Rubenstein's firm withdrawing from the Garner case or for Rubenstein to temporarily withdraw from his eight-year partnership with Scott Rynecki and let the latter go forward with the case.
Rynecki, who is widely considered among lawyers as the legal work horse of the firm, said Tuesday the partnership was continuing. "The notice of claim was filed to protect the rights of the family and of the estate," he said.
Pantaleo was stripped of his shield and gun pending the outcome of an investigation by Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan and the NYPD. Another officer was placed on modified assignment.