The family of the Staten Island man who died after a group of New York Police Department officers tackled him, with one putting him in a chokehold, announced that they plan to name the city, police department and eight individual officers in a $75 million wrongful death lawsuit.
Eric Garner’s wife Esaw Snipes, their six children and his mother, Gwen Carr, announced the pending lawsuit to city Controller Scott Stringer yesterday. The civil suit will include claims that police violated the 43-year-old Garner’s civil rights by “negligently and recklessly” placing him in an NYPD-banned chokehold while arresting him in July for selling bootleg cigarettes (July 17). The suit also lists the NYPD’s “negligent” hiring and training practices partly responsible for Garner’s death, which has since been ruled a homicide. Stringer has said his office received the lawsuit and it’s currently under review.
Plainclothes Officer Daniel Pantaleo, whose hands were around Garner’s neck in the chokehold, has since been striped of his badge and gun, but he along with his partner Justin D’Amico as well as Officers Craig Furlani, Christopher Maldonado, William Meems, Mark Ramos and two yet-to-be-identified cops will be named as defendants in the suit. Pantaleo and D’Amico have also been taken off the street and put on modified duty.
The chokehold is considered an illegal move to use in an arrest in New York and is defined by the NYPD as “any pressure to the throat or windpipe, which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air,” but according to new reports the move has been used more this year than in a decade. A civilian run organization, The Civilian Complaint Review Board, released a report yesterday stating that between July 2013 and June 2014 it received 219 chokehold complaints, a number previously unseen since 2010. From 2006-2010, the agency received over 200 chokehold complaints per year.
The organization adds that often times cases are misreported or underreported based on what they consider “too limited” of an interpretation of the NYPD’s “chokehold” definition by police.