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At the Millions March in New York City last December, protesters held up eight panels depicting Eric Garner's eyes, created by an artist known as JR. (Photo: The All Nite Images/flickr/cc)

'Money Isn't Justice': Eric Garner Family Calls for Real Accountability

'They deserve to be prosecuted. They treated my husband like an animal,' says Garner's widow of police officers involved in her husband's death

Deirdre Fulton

The family of Eric Garner held a press conference Tuesday to discuss the $5.9 million settlement it reached with New York City days before the one-year anniversary of his death—and to renew calls to criminally charge the police officer who put Garner in a fatal chokehold last July.

Garner, an unarmed 43-year-old black man, died on July 17, 2014 after white New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo used a chokehold to subdue him on a Staten Island sidewalk. In cell phone videos from the scene, Garner can be heard yelling "I can't breathe!" 11 times before he loses consciousness. A grand jury in December refused to indict Pantaleo, despite the fact that chokeholds are prohibited in the NYPD patrol guide and that the city medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.

The New York Daily News described the settlement struck between Garner's family and city comptroller Scott Stringer as "a reasonable financial recognition of the city’s responsibility in the death of a man whose fatal encounter with police became to many a national example of racially biased and excessive law enforcement."

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

But at a press conference in New York on Tuesday alongside civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton, Garner's widow, Esaw Garner, and mother, Gwen Carr said greater accountability was still needed. "No federal charges have been filed against the officer who killed Mr. Garner, and the settlement with the city does not establish justice," the family and Sharpton said in a statement.

"They deserve to be prosecuted. They treated my husband like an animal," Esaw Garner, reportedly said of the police officers who were involved.

One of Garner's children, Emerald Snipes, added: "Justice is when somebody is held accountable for what they do."

"No amount of money is going to heal our pain...we're just in search of justice," Eric Garner's daughter Erica said Monday night, as she led a rally on Staten Island to protest her father's death.

The New York Times reports that on Saturday, Garner's family will lead a rally outside the Brooklyn offices of the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York to call for a federal case to be brought against the officers involved in Garner's death.

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