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City Announces $5.9 Million Settlement For Eric Garner's Family

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) - New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer on Monday, announced the settlement of $5.9 million with the family of Eric Garner.

Garner died nearly a year ago in the Tompkinsville section of Staten Island, as police tried to arrest him for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. One officer, Daniel Pantaleo, used a takedown move that many have described as a chokehold.

The settlement is the largest ever in a wrongful death case involving a death caused by the NYPD, CBS2's Tony Aiello reported.

The New York City Medical Examiner's office ruled Garner's death a homicide. In December, a grand jury declined to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in Garner's death.

As CBS2's Aiello reported, there was a moment of prayer in the spot in Tompkinsville, Staten Island where Garner died in the apparent police chokehold just shy of one year ago.

At the vigil, there were a few words from his daughter, Erica Snipes Garner, about the settlement her family signed Monday.

"No amount of money is going heal our pain, so we're just searching, in search for justice, and that's our continued fight," she said.

Seven Garner family members put their signatures on papers, and will share the settlement money.

"I hope it gives closure for the Garner family. I think it's important that they have a sense of financial security," Stringer said. "I think for the city, as I mentioned, I think we have a lot of work to do to bring police and community together.

Stringer said in a statement that his office could not discuss the details of the settlement, and said the city has admitted no liability.

City Announces $5.9 Million Settlement For Eric Garner's Family

Still, he said in the statement, "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."

Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a statement late Monday in response to the settlement.

"No sum of money can make this family whole, but hopefully the Garner family can find some peace and finality from today's settlement," the mayor said in the statement. "By reaching a resolution, family and other loved ones can move forward even though we know they will never forget this tragic incident."

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito also issued a statement.

"The family of Eric Garner endured a tragic loss and this settlement is one step of many that our city must take to ensure that no more families need suffer this pain," Mark-Viverito's statement said. "Many questions remain unanswered, and there is yet much work to be done in New York City's ongoing efforts to reform our criminal justice system to ensure fairness and justice for all."

A lawyer for the Garner family said they've also reached a settlement with the Richmond University Medical Center whose EMTs responded to the scene but allegedly did little or nothing to save Garner's life, WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported.

City Announces $5.9 Million Settlement For Eric Garner's Family

Longtime civil rights attorney Jonathan Moore, the family's lawyer, said there would be a news conference Tuesday with the Rev. Al Sharpton and the family.

Sharpton said the settlement to the family was deserved but didn't resolve the larger questions around policing and minorities. He said a rally planned for Saturday, calling for an expedited federal investigation into Garner's death would go on as planned.

``We did not march and build a movement just to get money,'' he said.

The announcement of the settlement came after a report that Garner's family had rejected an earlier officer of $5 million. A source familiar with the negotiations tells the New York Daily News that Garner's widow Esaw declined the offer last week.

The family had said they planned to sue the city for $75 million.

Meanwhile, Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged the anniversary of Garner's July 17, 2014, death is on his mind.

De Blasio: Strides Made In NYPD Since Garner Death

De Blasio noted that he mourns Garner's passing, but added the important thing is to stay focused on the work of reform.

"I think we've come a long way, even in the last year, in terms of bringing police and community together," de Blasio told reporters, including WCBS 880's Rich Lamb. "The whole police force is being retrained. We're moving forward on body cameras. The number of unconstitutional and unnecessary stops obviously is greatly, greatly reduced. And yet, at the same time, we continue to drive crime down."

The mayor declared the city is striking the right balance with the new vision of police Commissioner Bill Bratton.

The city has reached settlements in other high-profile cases involving deaths of black men at the hands police officers. In 2004, the city agreed to pay $3 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of Amadou Diallo, who was shot by four police officers in 1999.

In 2010, the city agreed to pay $3.25 million to the estate of Sean Bell, who was killed in 2006 outside a strip club while leaving his bachelor party. Police had targeted the club for an undercover operation.

In January, the city settled with the family of teenager Ramarley Graham, who was shot by a police officer in 2012, for $3.9 million.

Last month, the comptroller's office agreed to pay $6.25 million to a man who spent nearly 25 years in prison before being exonerated in a killing that happened while he was more than 1,000 miles away vacationing at Disney World. A $6.4 million settlement was reached with a man exonerated in the 1990 killing of a rabbi.

Stringer also agreed to a $2.25 million payout to the family of a mentally ill inmate who died in a Rikers Island jail cell that sweltered to 101 degrees because of a malfunctioning heating system, and he helped put together a $17 million settlement in the case of three half-brothers who spent a combined 60 years in prison before their convictions were thrown out.

Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office would act as special prosecutor in investigations into police killings.

(TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 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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