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Comptroller Stringer Discusses Possibility Of City Settling With Garner Family

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer on Tuesday discussed the possibility of settling a planned $75 million lawsuit by the family of Eric Garner.

CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer confirmed Tuesday that Stringer was working toward settling the claim before it goes to court, so as to save the city and the family of the agony of a long, drawn-out proceeding.

But Stringer told WCBS 880 his office has not talked with Garner's family or their attorneys, and discussions on the subject are just beginning.

Comptroller Stringer Discusses Possibility Of City Settling With Garner Family

"There are advantages of settling early and not going to court. Sometimes you have to go to court and litigate cases," he said. "Every case is different, and I'm not going to prejudge this case. We're not going to talk about the specifics, because as I said, this is very early in the process."

Stringer said a plan for a settlement is not final.

"There's a possibility of a settlement, but there's also the possibility of a referral. Many things can happen. This is a process that is just beginning, and we're going to certainly do everything I can to watch out for the city's bottom line, and also make sure that we respect the Garner family in this process as well," he said.

Stringer also would not specify any possible dollar amount that might be appropriate for a settlement.

"This is way too early for anybody to have that kind of discussion," he told CBS2's Matt Kozar.

The Garner family's attorney told CBS2's Kozar he is amenable to sitting down with the city comptroller, but he also said the family is interested in more than just seeking damages. They also want policy changes related to policing.

Stringer would not talk about the specifics of the Garner family's claim against the city.

"I do want to see the city come together," he said. "I want people of all backgrounds to believe in the criminal justice system."

Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, died this past July after he had been stopped by police for allegedly selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.

Officer Daniel Pantaleo and other NYPD officers stopped Garner on the street in Tompkinsville, Staten Island. A video shot by an onlooker and widely watched on the Internet showed Garner telling the officers to leave him alone and refusing to be handcuffed.

Pantaleo responded by wrapping his arm around Garner's neck in an apparent chokehold, which is banned under NYPD policy. The heavyset Garner, who had asthma, is heard gasping, ``I can't breathe.'' He later was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Earlier this month, a grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo in the incident – prompting protests around the city and the country. But he is still subject to an ongoing probe by NYPD Internal Affairs and a federal investigation.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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