A New York Police Department sergeant, one of the supervising officers at the scene where Eric Garner was placed in a chokehold in 2014, has been stripped of her badge and gun and faces internal disciplinary charges.
Sgt. Kizzy Adonis was charged with failure to supervise, officials announced Friday. Garner — the unarmed Black man whose last words, “I Can’t Breathe,” became a rallying call for those protesting police violence — died after officer Daniel Pantaleo placed him in a chokehold deemed illegal by department standards in Staten Island. Police arrested the 43-year-old father on suspicion of selling loose cigarettes.
Months after his death, a grand jury failed to indict Pantaleo on criminal charges. The new charges against Adonis, however, reveal the department believes the officers on the scene never gained control of the situation, the New York Times reports.
“[C]ity police officials were forced to initiate discipline against the sergeant, Kizzy Adonis, because time was running out under an 18-month statute of limitations written into the Police Department labor contracts, said Stephen Davis, the Police Department’s chief spokesman. The statute does not apply to Officer Pantaleo because his conduct is being reviewed federally and a “criminal aspect exception applies,” Mr. Davis said.
Sergeant Adonis, 38, who was a probationary supervisor assigned to the 120th Precinct on Staten Island’s North Shore, was at the scene of Mr. Garner’s death, on July 17, 2014, in the Tompkinsville neighborhood.
On Friday, she was placed on modified duty, stripped of her gun and badge, and barred from doing street enforcement, Mr. Davis said.
Sgt. Edward D. Mullins, the head of Adonis’ union, called the charges “pure political pandering” and ridiculous, blasting Police Commissioner William J. Bratton for the decision.
“Commissioner Bratton bears the full responsibility for what occurred on Staten Island in the Garner case,” Mr. Mullins said. “He was the commissioner in charge of a policy, a failed policy, that should never have been. And that policy being the enforcement of untaxed cigarettes, and if anyone should be put on modified assignment, it should be him.”
Adonis is the first law enforcement authority to be charged with any wrongdoing in Garner’s death. A federal investigation, currently taking place, will need to be completed before the internal case against Adonis moves forward.