New York City officials agreed to pay $5.9 million to the family of Eric Garner, the 43-year-old man who was killed after an NYPD cop placed him in a chokehold after he was suspected of selling untaxed cigarettes.
City Comptroller Scott Stringer agreed to the settlement only days before the deadline for the family to file suit. Last year, the family filed a notice that they were intending to sue for $75, which is the necessary step before filing a lawsuit against the city.
Stringer said he agreed to the settlement to save the city money, knowing they would probably have dished out much more than that had it gone to trial, not to mention having to pay city attorneys who would milk the case for all they can.
Still, New York City had budgeted $674 million this year to cover settlements for 2015, a figure that is expected to blossom to $782 million by 2018.
According to the New York Times:
In recent months, the comptroller’s office has reached major settlements in several cases without a suit being filed, effectively cutting out involvement by the city’s Law Department.
Mr. Stringer reached a $6.4 million deal with David Ranta, who was imprisoned for 23 years after a wrongful murder conviction; Mr. Ranta had sought $150 million. A deal was also reached for $2.25 million with the family of Jerome Murdough, who died in an overheated jail cell at Rikers Island, to settle their $25 million claim against the city.
In 2001, a suit brought by Abner Louima, a Haitian man tortured with a broomstick while in police custody at a Brooklyn precinct station house in August 1997, was settled for $8.75 million, with the city paying $7.125 million and the police officers’ union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, which was accused of conspiring to cover up the assault, paying Mr. Louima another $1.625 million.
That agreement was reached three years into the suit brought by Mr. Louima, who was sodomized with the broken broomstick handle. The settlement came after federal trials in which one officer, Justin A. Volpe, was convicted in the attack and sentenced to 30 years in prison, and another pleaded guilty to perjury. Two more were sentenced to probation in the cover-up. Two other officers had their convictions overturned on appeal.
The cop who killed Garner, Danny Pantaleo – who has been sued at least twice before – has been on desk duty since last year, but reportedly cannot wait to get back on the beat.
According to the New York Daily News:
The most infamous cop in the city — parked in a desk job amid probes into Eric Garner’s death — can’t wait to get back on the job.
Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer who put Garner in a fatal chokehold, has received so many death threats a police detail guards his Staten Island home around the clock.
He’s been stripped of his gun and shield. He’s loathed by some of his neighbors. And the video showing him dragging Garner to the ground by the neck has turned him into a national pariah.
Yet, at least one thing hasn’t changed for the 30-year-old Pantaleo: His desire to keep working as a New York City cop.
“The unbelievable part is this has not soured him one bit on doing law enforcement,” his lawyer Stuart London told the Daily News. “It hasn’t diminished his desire to help the citizens of this city.”
It is doubtful he has any true desire to help the citizens of New York City, but perhaps he can help the city use up the hundreds of millions it has reserved for settlements.
He seems to be good at that.