A DNA test has confirmed that Eric Garner had a 16-month-old daughter with a woman he lived with for three years before his death.
According to the New York Daily News, Garner, who died outside a Staten Island, N.Y., store after police administered a banned choke hold, was never legally divorced and his widow, Esaw Garner, acknowledges that the baby, named Legacy, is his daughter, but she added that the little girl will never be part of her family.
"They knew she was his daughter, but they didn't want the public to know so they could keep up the image of the happily married husband and wife together, which was the farthest thing from the truth," Jewel Miller, Legacy's mother, told the Daily News. "I think it was a public relations thing."
She added: "And Esaw is just money-hungry."
Jonathan Moore, the Garner family lawyer, "is preparing a wrongful death suit against the police officers involved in Garner’s death. A notice of claim—the first step in filing a lawsuit against the city—filed last year listed Legacy as a potential beneficiary, in addition to Garner's children with Esaw," the Daily News reports.
Garner had four biological children ranging in age from 15 to 25 with his wife, Esaw.
The Daily News notes that the family is seeking up to $75 million for Garner's death. The DNA confirmation that Legacy is, in fact, Garner's daughter would entitle her to the largest portion of a payout should they receive a settlement. The Daily News notes that settlements are divided among living family by life expectancy, meaning that the youngest child would receive the largest sum.
Esaw Garner told the Daily News that she had been instructed by her lawyer not to comment, but added: "I know the truth. My kids know the truth. We know that's her baby and fine, that's what she's entitled to."
Eric Garner was approached by police July 17, 2014, and harassed for reportedly selling loose cigarettes. An argument ensued and police attempted to arrest Garner. One officer, Daniel Pantaleo, can be seen on a video recording placing Garner in a New York City Police Department-banned choke hold. Garner can be heard on the recording stating, "I can't breathe." He would die en route to the hospital.
Garner's death sparked nationwide protests, and his final words, "I can't breathe," became a defiant chant against police brutality.
According to the Daily News, Garner had been living with Miller for three years before the July 17 encounter that took his life. The Justice Department is still investigating the case.
Read more at the New York Daily News.