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What Legal Rights Does Chokehold Victim Eric Garner’s Family Have?

At 6-foot-5 and 350 pounds Eric Garner was an imposing figure but a gentle giant, according to friends and family members. His family, which includes six children and a wife, is still trying to understand what caused his death during an arrest Thursday evening.

Garner was arrested for illegally selling cigarettes near the Staten Island ferry docks when police officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a chokehold, violating NYPD protocol. Perhaps equally disturbing, a 7-minute YouTube video shows Garner lying motionless on the sidewalk while four officers stand around him and do not perform CPR.

“Breathe in, breathe out,” one of the officers commands Garner, who doesn’t respond.

EMS workers arrive and they, too, fail to take proper action.

Demonstrators gathered outside City Hall Monday, believing that the government’s actions following the apparent wrongful death – pulling Pantaleo from street duty and taking his service weapon – were not enough. Four EMS workers were also suspended while officials investigate.

While thousands are grieving the death of Garner, his family must deal with the devastating loss while simultaneously handling related legal matters. A likely wrongful death lawsuit will be filed against New York City, but there seems to be an abundance of evidence that will need careful examination.

The Garner family likely has 90 days from the date of Eric’s death to file a notice of claim with the City to initiate the lawsuit process.

Source: NY Post, “Cops Didn’t Give Medical Assistance To Man After Chokehold,” Rebecca Harshbarger, July 20, 2014


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