The agreement, reached a few days before the anniversary of Mr. Garner’s death, headed off one legal battle even as a federal inquiry into the killing and several others at the state and local level remain open and could provide a further accounting of how he died.
Still, the settlement was a pivotal moment in a case that has engulfed the city since the afternoon of July 17, 2014, when two officers approached Mr. Garner as he stood unarmed on a sidewalk, and accused him of selling untaxed cigarettes. One of the officers used a chokehold — prohibited by the Police Department — to subdue him, and that was cited by the medical examiner as a cause of Mr. Garner’s death.
The killing of Mr. Garner, 43, followed by the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., in August, set off a national debate about policing actions in minority communities and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.
Mr. Garner’s final words — “I can’t breathe” — repeated 11 times, became a national rallying cry. A Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer who used the chokehold, Daniel Pantaleo, fueled weeks of demonstrations. The protests eased after two police officers in Brooklyn were fatally shot in December by a man who said he acted to avenge Mr. Garner’s death.
The killings of the officers shook the city anew, deepening tensions between the police and Mayor Bill de Blasio and slowing a push to enact a host of criminal justice reforms. Last year, Mr. Garner’s relatives, including his widow, Esaw Garner, and his mother, Gwen Carr, filed a notice of claim— a procedural step that must precede a lawsuit — against the city. In the notice, they said were seeking $75 million in damages. Since then, the family has been in talks with the comptroller’s office.
“Mr. Garner’s death is a touchstone in our city’s history and in the history of the entire nation,” the comptroller, Scott M. Stringer, said in a telephone interview late on Monday. “Financial compensation is certainly not everything, and it can’t bring Mr. Garner back. But it is our way of creating balance and giving a family a certain closure.”