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Supervisor on scene when Garner died avoids NYPD trial, loses 20 vacation days

New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill speaks

New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill speaks during a news conference to announce the termination of officer Daniel Pantaleo on Monday in Manhattan. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Drew Angerer

The NYPD sergeant on the scene the day that Eric Garner died during an arrest on Staten Island settled her disciplinary case Wednesday without a trial, accepting a loss of 20 vacation days, said officials and lawyers familiar with the case.

The department announced the settlement with Sgt. Kizzy Adonis, 42, of Brooklyn, in a terse message from NYPD spokesperson Devora Kaye that said: “this disciplinary case was adjudicated.”

The move, which avoids a departmental trial, follows NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill's announcement that he fired Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who used a banned chokehold on Garner as he struggled to restrain him. O'Neill agreed with the recommendation of deputy commissioner for trials Rosemarie Maldonado, who found the officer recklessly used the chokehold and it contributed to Garner's death.

O’Neill’s decision prompted a fiery condemnation from Police Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch who called for a vote of no confidence against O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had said Adonis would face a departmental trial .   

Adonis was the immediate supervisor of Pantaleo and other officers who responded to complaints from merchants on Staten Island about Garner selling the untaxed cigarettes in July 2014. She faced a charge of failure to supervise.

Pantaleo's struggle with Garner, which was caught on video, ultimately led to Garner's death after he repeatedly said "I can't breathe,"  a phrase that later became emblematic of the Black Lives Matter movement. The obese man had asthma but medical experts classified his death as a homicide in which the chokehold was a contributing factor.

Law enforcement sources said O'Neill took into consideration that Adonis had only been promoted to her supervisory job for a week before the fateful encounter and had no prior disciplinary problems.  Adonis had only received good job evaluations up until that time, the officials noted.

O’Neill did find that Adonis’s command had been lacking in certain areas but determined that nothing she did led to the use of the chokehold or delayed the arrival of medical help, the officials said.

Adonis’s attorney Christopher Quinn didn’t return telephone calls for comment Wednesday.

Pantaleo’s attorney Stuart London had no comment Wednesday.  But the decision to settle the case with Adonis outraged the Garner family who had wanted all of the cops involved in the attempted arrest fired.

“I’m not one bit surprised but I am outraged and disgusted by how the de Blasio administration and the NYPD continue to show that they don’t care about the murder of my son,” said Garner’s mother Gwendolyn Carr in a statement.

“Sgt. Adonis has had charges pending for years,” said Carr. “It’s disgraceful that they waited more than five years until after Pantaleo was fired to cut her a deal so that all she’s facing is losing some vacation days.”

Carr called the penalty facing Adonis “crumbs’ and continued her call for the NYPD to bring other officers present during the arrest up on charges.

But it is unlikely, law enforcement officials said, that anyone else in the NYPD will face discipline over the fatal arrest. “They want to put this behind them,” one defense attorney said.         


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