NYPD Sergeant at Scene of Eric Garner Chokehold Death Placed on Modified Duty, Served Departmental Charges

Sgt. Kizzy Adonis was served the charges as part of the investigation into Eric Garner’s chokehold death and placed on modified duty on Friday, an NYPD spokesman said. (By Todd Maisel/New York Daily News)
By Rocco Parascandola, Joseph Stepansky,
An NYPD sergeant was stripped of her gun and shield Friday after she was brought up on departmental charges in the July 2014 chokehold death of Eric Garner, police said.

Sgt. Kizzy Adonis was placed on modified duty, facing four counts of “failure to supervise,” according to a union official. The NYPD provided no details on the case against her.

Adonis, a 14-year NYPD veteran, was one of the supervising officers at the scene of Garner’s death during his arrest 18 months ago for selling illegal loose cigarettes.

Adonis told investigators “the perpetrator’s condition did not seem serious and that he did not appear to get worse,” according to an internal report by the NYPD.

But Adonis also said that she “believed she heard the perpetrator state that he was having difficulty breathing.”

Garner, 43, died after he was placed in a chokehold on Staten Island as an eyewitness videotaped the confrontation with cops.

The man’s dying declaration — “I can’t breathe” — was captured on the cellphone recording and became a refrain for protesters demonstrating against police brutality.

Garner’s widow said the long-delayed discipline by the NYPD was meaningless to her.

“When I get an indictment or a prosecution, then I’ll be happy,” Esaw Garner told The News. Garner was unaware of the modified assignment ruling until contacted by The News.

Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins said the charge against Adonis was bogus.

“It’s a bulls— political charge, and Commissioner Bratton is pandering,” said Mullins. “That’s exactly what that is … Although he is the commissioner, I believe he has overstepped his bounds in this case.”

Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who applied the fatal hold, remains on modified duty but has yet to face any departmental charges.

A Staten Island grand jury voted not to indict Pantaleo in December 2014, and a federal probe of the death is still open. Mullins noted that the grand jury opted to return no other charges as well.

“This is a total surprise,” said Mullins. “Based on my knowledge, in my 35 years, she did her job. We may not like the outcome, but she did her job.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton called the departmental charges against Adonis a small step in the right direction.

“This is a good sign, but it’s certainly not all we want,” said Sharpton. “I think all the officers that were there need to be brought up on charges once the federal investigation is over.

“She and everyone involved had a responsibility to stop it.”

Departmental charges against any other supervisors or officers at the scene are possible, but must be filed by Jan. 17 — unless the targets, like Pantaleo, are the subject of possible criminal charges, sources told The News.

The NYPD had planned to wait on departmental charges in the death until after federal authorities finished their investigation, a police spokesman said.

But Adonis was recently promoted to sergeant, putting her on mandatory departmental probation. Because of those circumstances, any NYPD disciplinary action was required within 18 months of the incident, said a police spokesman.

The NYPD requested and was granted permission by federal investigators to serve the charges.

Mullins said Adonis was only at the scene in July 2014 because she heard the call on the radio and responded — even though she was not required or ordered to appear.

“She didn’t have to do it,” said Mullins. “That’s the irony of it.”

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