NEW YORK (AP) — The city of New York has agreed to pay a Brooklyn man $75,000 to settle a lawsuit claiming he was choked and unable to breathe during a 2013 encounter with police.
A federal judge approved the settlement last week, and New York City Law Department spokesman Nick Paolucci said that "based on an evaluation of the case, it was determined that the settlement was in the best interests of the city."
Attorney Jeffrey Rothman said Monday that the settlement for Kevin Dennis-Palmer Sr. was "another example of a black man choked and beaten down into the ground."
Paolucci did not immediately respond Monday evening to an email seeking comment on Rothman's characterization of the case.
The lawsuit was filed in May before the death of Eric Garner last summer, whose treatment by police and a grand jury decision not to indict any officers prompted nationwide protests.
Garner, a large man suffering from asthma, died after a New York police officer placed him in an apparent chokehold during an arrest in July for selling loose cigarettes. A widely seen video showed Garner gasping: "I can't breathe," as he was wrestled to the ground in Staten Island by police.
The Dennis-Palmer settlement was first reported by the Daily News.
Rothman said the circumstances were similar to the Garner case. He said Dennis-Palmer, 28, was approached by two officers outside his home as he was trying to parallel park his car. According to the lawsuit, he was ordered out of the car but could not immediately get out because of his large frame.
The suit says officers tried to pull him by his collar through a window and pepper sprayed him and slammed him to the street when he emerged from the car with his hands up. The suit says one of several officers who arrived at the scene lifted him up by his neck, choking him, as other officers struck him on the head and back.
Dennis-Palmer, suffering from asthma, had difficulty breathing and screamed, the lawsuit says.
"I'm yelling, 'I can't breathe — you're choking me!" Dennis-Palmer told the newspaper.
The suit said charges were brought against Dennis-Palmer alleging that his car was stopped because his windows were illegally tinted and that he resisted turning over driving credentials.
Rothman said the charges were later dropped, and Dennis-Palmer was treated for a swollen eye and cuts to his wrist and head.