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New York attorney accused of raping woman withdraws from police chokehold death case

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NEW YORK — An attorney accused of raping a woman will no longer represent the family of a man who died after being placed in a police chokehold.

Attorney Sanford Rubenstein's law partner announced Wednesday that Rubenstein doesn't want the woman's claims to distract from the Eric Garner case.

Rubenstein, who hasn't been arrested or charged, denies any criminal conduct. His withdrawal from the chokehold case allows the Garner family to push forward for accountability and its day in court, said law partner Scott Rynecki, who will replace him.

Garner's family has filed a notice of claim to sue the city and the police department for $75 million.

A spokesman for city Comptroller Scott Stringer said Tuesday that the family's notice of claim was under review. The city's Law Department said it will review the claim thoroughly.

Garner, who was unarmed, was stopped by police on Staten Island on July 17 on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.

A video shot by an onlooker shows Garner telling the officers to leave him alone and refusing to be handcuffed.

An officer responded by putting Garner in a chokehold, which is banned under police policy. Garner, who had asthma, is heard gasping, "I can't breathe." He was pronounced dead later at a hospital.

The city medical examiner found that the police chokehold contributed to Garner's death. Police have promised to retrain officers on the use of force. A grand jury will determine whether criminal charges are filed.

Garner's death has sparked protests including an Aug. 23 march on Staten Island that drew thousands of people demanding justice.

The notice of claim was filed by Rubenstein's firm.

Rubenstein's accuser said the attack on her happened when she went back to his Manhattan apartment following a 60th birthday party last week for the Rev. Al Sharpton.

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PHOTO: FILE - In this Sept. 24, 2014, file photo, attorney Sanford A. Rubenstein, 70, appears at a press conference at his offices in New York. Rubenstein will no longer represent the family of Eric Garner, who died in a police chokehold. On Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, his law partner announced that Rubenstein does not want a woman’s claim that he raped her to distract from the Garner case. Rubenstein has neither been charged nor arrested. He denies any criminal conduct. (AP Photo/File, Kathy Willens)

FILE - In this Sept. 24, 2014, file photo, attorney Sanford A. Rubenstein, 70, appears at a press conference at his offices in New York. Rubenstein will no longer represent the family of Eric Garner, who died in a police chokehold. On Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, his law partner announced that Rubenstein does not want a woman’s claim that he raped her to distract from the Garner case. Rubenstein has neither been charged nor arrested. He denies any criminal conduct. (AP Photo/File, Kathy Willens)

 

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