A $5 million settlement won’t satisfy the heartbroken family of Eric Garner.
A source familiar with ongoing negotiations between Controller Scott Stringer and the family of the Staten Island man killed by an NYPD cop say that his widow, Esaw Garner, turned down the hefty offer last week.
The source said the Garner family’s attorney, Jonathan Moore, is urging the family to accept the $5 million and then seek more money through a separate lawsuit against EMTs from Richmond University Medical Center.
They were captured on video failing to give Garner, 43, medical treatment — neither oxygen nor CPR — as he died at their feet July 17, 2014.
Negotiations are expected to continue until Friday, when a statute of limitations requires the family file a wrongful death lawsuit. The family has said it intends to sue the city for $75 million.
The $5 million offer would have been one of the largest wrongful death settlements stemming from a killing by NYPD cops.
Moore declined comment Sunday. Esaw Garner refused to talk about the negotiations, as did a spokesman for Stringer.
But last week Esaw Garner told the Daily News she is disgusted by the U.S. justice system. A Staten Island grand jury opted not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo last year, triggering protests around the country.
“It seems like because they didn’t prosecute the officers on Staten Island, all the other officers were like, ‘Hell. We’ll get away with it. Let’s just do it again,’” she said, reflecting on the recent wave of police killings of unarmed black men across the country.
But one civil rights lawyer not involved in the case said the offer was a good one.
“In the gamut of wrongful death cases it’s a very substantial offer,” the lawyer said.
The lawyer noted that wrongful death settlements are sometimes perceived as being low, but that the law restricts the amount that can be recovered. Settlements are quantified by calculating the victim’s conscious pain and suffering, as well as loss of family income.
“The conscious pain and suffering (in the Garner case) was probably about a minute,” the lawyer said.
Garner was known to cops for selling loose cigarettes — a hustle that likely didn’t yield big bucks.
Stringer, who has taken a more aggressive approach to settling claims against the city before they become lawsuits, has ample motivation to reach a deal.
“I think Stringer recognizes that this case is highly politicized and depending on the jury, there could be a very substantial reward that would be higher than a typical wrongful death case,” the lawyer said.
An unusually high figure could be reduced on appeal, but that might be less likely given the publicity surrounding the Garner case, the lawyer said.
An additional incentive for the Garner family to settle is that the case might not go before a jury for years.
The Brooklyn U.S. Attorney is investigating Pantaleo’s killing of Garner for possible civil rights violations. If those charges are brought, any civil case stemming from the death would be put on hold.
Other high-profile cases involving death at the hands of NYPD cops were settled in three years at the least.
The family of Anthony Baez agreed to a $3 million settlement in 1998. Baez died of asphyxiation shortly after a rogue cop, Francis Livoti, put him in a chokehold. The confrontation was the result of an errant football striking a police cruiser during a football game in 1994.
The family of Amadou Diallo agreed to $3 million from the city in 2004. The unarmed immigrant died in a barrage of 41 police bullets in the Bronx after cops mistook his wallet for a gun in 1999.
The heirs of Sean Bell won $3.25 million in 2010. The man was celebrating his bachelor party when he was shot in a hail of over 50 NYPD bullets in 2006. One of Bell’s friends who was wounded in the shooting settled for $3 million. Another pal who was shot got $900,000.
The family of Ramarley Graham settled their lawsuit against the city in January for $3.9 million. The 18-year-old was shot by NYPD cop Richard Haste in his Bronx home in a drug bust gone bad. Cops said Haste mistakenly thought Graham had a gun.
Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, said the long, sad history of police violence shows that justice still isn’t being served.
“(Cops) know basically nothing is going to happen to them. It doesn’t matter if you wear blue jeans, a blue suit or a blue uniform, if you commit a crime, you should be held accountable for that crime,” she said.