NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — An NYPD sergeant has been charged internally and stripped of her gun and badge in connection with the July 2014 death of Eric Garner.
The move to penalize Sgt. Kizzy Adonis drew the wrath of the Sergeants Benevolent Association late Friday.
Adonis was one of the supervising officers at the scene of Garner’s arrest on Staten Island. Although she was not part of the team investigating that day, Adonis responded to the scene after hearing the radio call.
She has been charged with failure to supervise, an internal disciplinary sanction, officials said.
Adonis had been promoted to sergeant about two weeks before Garner’s death, and under departmental policy, her probationary term would have been up had they not levied charges. She will now remain on probation, until her internal case is completed.
“The NYPD, in consultation with the United States Attorney’s office, served the departmental charges at this time in order to preserve the disciplinary statute of limitations and all further proceedings concerning the Garner inquiry will continue to be stayed until the conclusion of the federal investigation,” the department said in a statement.
Union head Sgt. Ed Mullins called the charge ridiculous and political. Adonis stood stone-faced and silent as Mullins addressed the departmental charges, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported.
“She didn’t have to go there, she chose to go there to help out, and look what happens,” he said. “The only one that should be modified should be Commissioner Bratton because this incident stems from failed policies that ultimately led to the death of Eric Garner.”
Mullins slammed Bratton repeatedly in his comments, saying he was “embarrassed” for the commissioner.
“My embarrassment that he is the commissioner of the NYPD making a decision on a case to which that I don’t even think that he’s really evaluated the facts,” he said.
Mullins further called the decision political in nature.
“Make no mistake — this can only be described as political pandering,” he said. “The anti-police rhetoric that’s out there, that was seen across the country, and a failure of character to stand up and make a decision that is although not popular, would be the right decision.”
The move signals the first official accusation of wrongdoing in the case that helped spark a national movement on the role of race in policing.
Garner, who was 43, was stopped in July of 2014 outside a Staten Island convenience store because police officers believed he was selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.
A video shot by an onlooker shows Garner telling the officers to leave him alone and refusing to be handcuffed.
Officer Daniel Pantaleo then placed his arm around Garner’s neck to take him down. Garner, who had asthma, is heard gasping “I can’t breathe!” 11 times before losing consciousness. He was pronounced dead later at a hospital.
The city medical examiner found the apparent police chokehold contributed to Garner’s death. But a grand jury declined to indict the officer in the death. Pantaleo, who has said he was using a legal takedown maneuver, remains on desk duty.
No one else in the case has yet to face departmental charges, and the internal disciplinary review is on hold pending a federal inquiry.
Garner’s death, along with the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, spurred national outcry and protests about police treatment of black men.
Internal charges can lead to loss of vacation days up to dismissal from the department. Garner’s family settled a lawsuit with the city for $5.9 million.
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