The family of a Staten Island man who died in an apparent police chokehold put the city on notice Tuesday that they intend to file a $75 million wrongful-death lawsuit.
Eric Garner’s widow, Esaw Snipes, their six children and his mother, Gwen Carr, informed city Controller Scott Stringer of the pending lawsuit, revealing they will name the city, the NYPD and eight cops as defendants.
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.
In the notice, the family took aim at the NYPD’s “broken windows” policing policy.
“The incident herein may have a direct relationship and/or may have been caused by the ‘broken windows’ policing policy being implemented and utilized by the … City of New York and the New York City Police Department,” the notice states.
A cornerstone of Police Commissioner Bill Bratton’s crimefighting plan, the “broken windows” policy emphasizes an aggressive policing of quality-of-life offenses to prevent more serious ones.
The suit will also hold the NYPD’s “negligent” hiring and training practices partly responsible for Garner’s demise, according to the notice.
Controller Scott Stringer’s office confirmed receipt of the claim filed on behalf of Eric Garner. “This claim is now under review,” said Stringer’s spokesman Eric Sumberg.
Garner died on July 17 after cops say they spotted him selling untaxed cigarettes in front of a beauty supply store on Bay St. in the Tompkinsville section of Staten Island.
A cell phone video showed plainclothes Officer Daniel Pantaleo putting the 6-foot-3, 350-pound man in an apparent chokehold and taking him down to the sidewalk with the help of partner Justin D’Amico and other cops who responded as backup.
Garner is heard on the video — first obtained and aired by NYDailyNews.com — repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe” as the cops held him down.
In the footage, Garner goes silent and appears to lose consciousness. He later died at Richmond University Medical Center.
On Aug. 1, the city medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide after finding that compressions to the neck killed him.
According to the notice, Pantaleo, D’Amico and Officers Craig Furlani, Christopher Maldonado, William Meems, Mark Ramos and two yet-to-be-identified cops will be named as defendants in the suit.
“The officers involved failed to properly report the use of a banned chokehold maneuver to superiors, so as to attempt to create a cover up,” the notice reads.
“In addition, the police officers present when the banned chokehold was used failed to stop the use of this banned maneuver so as to become tacit collaborators.”
Pantaleo and D’Amico have been taken off the street and put on modified duty. Pantaleo was also stripped of his badge and gun.
The notice of claim was signed and sent to Stringer’s office by the Garner family’s attorney, Sanford Rubenstein, who is under investigation on allegations he raped a woman in his Manhattan penthouse.
“The filing of the Notice of Claim, by the Garner family was planned to protect their right to a lawsuit before the time to file expired,” the Rev. Al Sharpton, who is supporting the family’s quest for justice, said in a statement Tuesday.
Sharpton said the family will make an announcement, apparently about whether they will keep Rubenstein as their attorney, at a National Action Network rally on Saturday
“Being that the allegations against Mr. Rubenstein just surfaced on Sunday and Monday, it is clear whatever we would have decided to do could not have been decided or changed by (the Monday deadline). We must protect the family’s rights,” Sharpton said. “No one should read anything else into it.”