An NYPD probationary sergeant was hit with administrative charges Friday in connection with the events surrounding the July 2014 death of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man who died after a struggle with police, officials said.
Kizzy Adonis, a sergeant in the 120th Precinct was stripped of her gun and placed on modified assignment after being served with the charges, according to the NYPD. While the exact nature of the charges wasn’t disclosed, an official indicated it related to allegations of failure to supervise other officers.
The filing of the charges was a technical step taken to preserve the statute of limitations, which requires administrative charges to be filed against an officer within 18 months of an alleged act of wrongdoing, an NYPD spokesman said. Garner died on July 17, 2014 from a possible chokehold after he resisted arrest as cops attempted to take him into custody over the sale of loose cigarettes.
Adonis, who had been promoted to the rank of sergeant a short time before the Garner incident, won’t be facing a departmental trial any time soon because of a pending federal civil rights investigation. At the request of federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, the police have agreed to place the departmental probe into Garner’s death on hold until the prosecutors decide whether criminal charges will be brought, the NYPD said in a statement.
During a news conference, Ed Mullins, head of the Sergeants Benevolent Association union, said the charges against Adonis were politically motivated by Commissioner William Bratton.
In an interview with Newsday, Mullins said Adonis wasn’t the actual patrol supervisor at the time. When she arrived at the scene Adonis had her driver, a certified EMT, examine Garner and found him to be breathing, Mullins said.
“For him to come out now ... is nothing more than a character flaw in her leadership,” Mullins said.
Adonis, 38, is the first and only officer so far to face a formal accusation of wrongdoing in the case. Garner died from what the city medical examiner said was a chokehold as he struggled with police. Contributing factors in Garner’s death were his asthma, obesity and high blood pressure, the coroner found. An amateur video showed Officer Daniel Pantaleo applying what appeared to be a chokehold but which his attorney and supporters said was not.
A Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict Pantaleo, which led to weeks of protest in New York City in late 2014. A law enforcement source said that because the NYPD is waiting for federal prosecutors to act, it was possible that Pantaleo might escape departmental charges if the statute of limitations expires and prosecutors can’t make a case.