A sergeant who was at the scene of Eric Garner’s chokehold death in Staten Island, New York, is facing departmental charges and has been placed on modified duty for her role in the episode, the New York Police Department said Friday. Sgt. Kizzy Adonis, the ranking officer at the time of the incident, has been charged with failure to supervise.
Sources have said charges likely will be brought against a second sergeant, the New York Daily News reported. The charge comes 18 months after Garner’s July 2014 death and were brought against Adonis this week because she was recently promoted to sergeant while on probation. NYPD policies stipulate that under those circumstances, disciplinary action must be taken within 18 months of the incident.
Garner, 43, died after being placed in a chokehold by a police officer attempting to arrest him for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. The incident and his last words, “I can’t breathe,” were caught on video and quickly became a rallying cry for demonstrators across the country protesting police brutality.
Adonis has told investigators the perpetrator’s “condition did not seem serious and ... he did not appear to get worse,” but added she believed she heard Garner say he was having trouble breathing.
Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who employed the fatal chokehold, has not yet been charged by the department and remains on modified duty while a federal investigation continues. Pantaleo was cleared of wrongdoing by a Staten Island grand jury in December 2014.
Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, called the charge against Adonis a “political” one. “Commissioner [William] Bratton is pandering,” he told the Daily News. “That’s exactly what that is.
New York City settled with Garner’s family for $5.9 million last June, just days before the deadline for Garner’s family to file a wrongful death lawsuit.