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Queens leaders say Garner settlement doesn’t solve problems

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After City Comptroller Scott Stringer announced the $5.9 million settlement with Eric Garner’s family a few days before the anniversary of his death, Queens elected officials and community leaders say the agreement does not sufficiently address the troubled relationship between police and the community.

Garner’s estate filed a claim against the city in October 2014 for damages related to his death in July.

“While we cannot discuss the details of this settlement, and the city has not admitted liability, 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,” Stringer said in a statement.

The family also reached a settlement with Richmond University Medical Center, whose responders were sent to the scene, National Public Radio reported.

Garner, 43, who was black, died after he was placed into a police chokehold by a white police officer during his arrest on Staten Island for selling loose cigarettes. The medical examiner ruled his death a homicide. A grand jury convened by Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan decided not to indict the officer.

His death was replayed throughout the country on a video as he slumped to the sidewalk saying, “I can’t breathe.”

Although there will be a march in Staten Island and a rally at the federal courthouse in downtown Brooklyn Saturday, there were no scheduled events in Queens. But elected officials had strong feelings about the settlement.

“I personally think that while the deal may have been good in terms of bringing some closure to his family, it does a poor job of having the city think about its policing,” state Sen. James Sanders (D-South Ozone Park) said.

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) is a co-sponsor of bills based on the Garner case, which include the Death in Custody Reporting Act and the End Racial Profiling Act.

“For me, one of the biggest tragedies that still remains is that the officer that committed the horrendous act is still getting paid by the city of New York,” he said.

City Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) said the settlement does not change the loss of life.

“Although there was a settlement, that is not justice for the family nor justice for the community and justice will be when we really make meaningful changes in laws that protect, that have for far too long protected those who harm innocent lives,” Richards said.

Javier Valdes, co-director of Make the Road New York, an immigrant advocacy group, is attending the Staten Island march.

“In the borough of Queens, what we’re going to be doing is working with young people ... around the issues of policing and how they can get involved,” Valdes said.

Joe Concannon, a retired NYPD captain and U.S. Air Force Veteran running for Mark Weprin’s City Council seat, said he sympathized with the family but that the families of the three police officers who were killed this year did not receive such a settlement.

“You have an individual here who has broken the law not once, not twice but clearly somewhere between 30 and 40 times and the city feels so compelled to give him this kind of a settlement,” Concannon said, speaking of Garner. “It just seems extraordinary to me.”

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association declined to comment on the settlement.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

Posted 12:00 am, July 16, 2015
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Reader feedback

Just Asking from Queens says:
In what universe are you justified in using the word "most" in the photo caption, when you only cite a handful of individuals in your story?
July 16, 2015, 7:08 am
Charge them back from Queens says:
Out of this settlement, the "family" should have to pay the medical expenses of all of those who got hooked and kept smoking because he provided cheap cigarettes. What a wonderful member of the community he was..
July 16, 2015, 8:30 am
James from Whitestone says:
Centola, aka Just Asking from Queens and Charge them back from Queens. I think I agree with you !?
July 19, 2015, 1:16 pm

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