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OpinionColumnistsWilliam F. B. O'Reilly

Why I question settlement in Eric Garner's case

Al Sharpton with Esaw Garner, widow of Eric

Al Sharpton with Esaw Garner, widow of Eric Garner, and son Emory Garner during a news conference on December 3, 2014, after the grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer in Garner's death. Photo Credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Eric Garner's death a year ago this week was awful. No unarmed man should die resisting arrest.

But $5.9 million?

Where do these numbers come from?

City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who awarded the settlement to Garner's family, said it was, "in the best interest of all parties." Maybe it was. Maybe taxpayers would have shelled out $10 million at a jury trial. But, still, it doesn't sit right.

It's a monstrous thing to speak ill of the dead. But the city just handed out almost $6 million because a 350-pound, asthmatic man with a long record resisted arrest and died in the ensuing tussle with police.

That's crazy, even if it is a drop in the bucket to a city that paid out $732 million in legal fees in the last fiscal year.

More than 100 homeless people die on NYC streets every year. We stream past them at rush hour daily like water around stones. We train our eyes to look away from the most forlorn cases who clearly aren't long for the world.

How is a city of eight million inculpable for watching mentally ill men and women slowly die on public streets on the hook for Garner?

Politics clearly had much to do with Stringer's decision. The Garner case remains a hot potato and the city wants its legal elements wrapped up as soon as possible. But this settlement can't go down easily with many New Yorkers, including police officers injured by suspects who resist arrest.

Huge amounts of money get thrown around after publicized tragedies, and no one feels comfortable objecting. Seven billion dollars -- an average of $1.8 million each -- was awarded to the families of 9/11 victims, including several I know and care for, but I still don't know why it was justified. I realize it protected the airlines from potentially catastrophic lawsuits, but what about New York's other slaying victims? Why no remittance for them?

Why are beach dwellers given tax dollars when freak storms damage their property? Isn't living on the water a calculated risk? Why do people living inland have to pay?

I don't begrudge the Garner family for reaching a settlement. I wish them only peace. But I do question this settlement, and I suspect others quietly do, too.