New York City agreed to pay $5.9 million to the family of Eric Garner to resolve a wrongful-death claim over his killing by the police on Staten Island last July, the New York Times reports. The agreement, reached a few days before the anniversary of Garner's death, headed off a legal battle as a federal inquiry into the killing and several others at the state and local level remain open and could provide further details of how he died. The Times says the case has engulfed the city since July 17, 2014, when two officers approached Garner as he stood unarmed on a sidewalk, and accused him of selling untaxed cigarettes. One of the officers used a chokehold, a prohibited action in the police department, to subdue him. That was cited by the medical examiner as a cause of death.
The killing of Garner, 43, followed by the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., the next month, helped set off a national debate about policing actions in minority communities and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. Garner's relatives, including his widow, Esaw Garner, and his mother, Gwen Carr, sought $75 million in damages. The family has been in talks with the office of Comptroller Scott Stringer. “Financial compensation is certainly not everything, and it can't bring Mr. Garner back,” Stringer said. “But it is our way of creating balance and giving a family a certain closure.” The family had given the city a deadline of Friday, the anniversary of the death, to come to an agreement or the relatives would file suit. On Saturday, Garner's family is expected to lead a rally outside the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn calling for a federal case to be brought against the officers involved in Garner's death.