Hospital to pay $1M to family of Eric Garner

The figure is the maximum claim allowed under the hospital center's liability insurance policy

Associated Press

NEW YORK — The hospital center that dispatched paramedics and treated Eric Garner as he died after being placed into a chokehold by police has agreed to pay $1 million to the family, according to court records obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.

The settlement with Richmond University Medical Center is confidential and wasn't part of the $5.9 million agreement announced by the city in July. But the figure was disclosed in court documents filed in Surrogate's Court on Staten Island that outline how the money will be dispersed to his family. Garner left no will.

The figure is the maximum claim allowed under the hospital center's liability insurance policy, according to court papers.

The hospital center had no comment on the settlement, according to spokesman William Smith. Garner's lawyers didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Garner, a 43-year-old black father of six, died during the encounter on July 17, 2014. Video of the arrest that has been widely circulated online shows the asthmatic, overweight man yelling, "I can't breathe!" after a white officer wraps his arm around Garner's neck and he's wrestled to the ground by police. Emergency workers arrive after officers call 911, check his pulse and make sure he's breathing before placing him on the stretcher.

"Sir, it's EMS. We're here to help you. We're getting the stretcher, all right?" one worker says to Garner when they arrive at 3:36 p.m.

He does not answer.

Later, when a bystander asks on video why they aren't trying to resuscitate him, an officer says it's because Garner is breathing.

"The EMTs did not conduct the appropriate examination" of Garner at the scene and "failed to provide him with the necessary life-saving procedures," according to the court documents.

Hospital records, also filed in the documents, say Garner went into cardiac arrest on the stretcher. The medics tried to resuscitate Garner in the ambulance and doctors again performed CPR at the emergency room. By 4:15, he had no pulse, and he was declared dead at 4:34 p.m. The medical examiner determined his death was caused by the chokehold and restraint by police, coupled with acute asthma, obesity — Garner weighed 395 pounds and was 6-foot-2 — and heart disease.

Two paramedics and two emergency medical technicians were initially suspended without pay by the hospital, but they were reinstated into roles that did not involve patient care. They have since returned to the job, according to hospital officials.

Also detailed in the documents is a proposal for how to disperse the money. Garner's widow will received about $2.4 million. His children will receive sums that range from $195,000 to $996,000. His mother, Gwen Carr, will receive $124,000 for acting as administrator of his estate, and the law firm that represented the family will receive $2.3 million, or one-third, which is a common attorney fee. The family's first attorney, Sanford Rubenstein, fired amid an unrelated sex assault investigation where he was eventually cleared, also requested an undisclosed sum, which the family is disputing.

A judge set a hearing for March 16 to formalize the proposal.

No criminal charges have been filed in Garner's death, which helped galvanize a national movement on police treatment of minorities, but a federal probe continues. Officers have been called before a federal grand jury in Brooklyn. Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who put his arm around Garner's neck, has said he was using a legal takedown maneuver, not a chokehold which is prohibited under police policy.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press

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