Union: Disciplined Sgt. In Garner Case Wasn't Told What She Allegedly Did Wrong
New York, NY – Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA) President Ed Mullins faced reporters on Thursday morning to address incorrect reports that New York Police Department (NYPD) Sergeant Kizzy Adonis had pleaded guilty to failure to supervise as part of her deal to avoid trial in connection with the death of Eric Garner.
“I want to reiterate Kizzy Adonis is innocent – she never pled guilty. You were never told the truth of who was in charge that night and the dirty little secret… by having one sergeant do two jobs,” Mullins told reporters.
Then he called the whole mess a “shameful chapter in NYPD history.”
“Fact: Approximately two weeks ago, the SBA was approached by the NYPD to determine whether there would be any circumstances under which Sgt. Adonis would be willing to enter a plea of guilty,” the union president said. “We unequivocally refused to do so and said no.”
“Fact: Following negotiations with the advocate’s office, we agreed to a disposition of the disciplinary charges whereas Sgt. Adonis agreed to forfeit an accrued monetary value of 20 vacation days and not plead guilty to any wrongdoing. This is commonly known, but rarely offered, as a ‘nolo contendere,’” Mullins explained.
The union president said Sgt. Adonis accepted the deal because she had no faith in the NYPD to do the right thing after what they did to NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill fired Officer Pantaleo on Monday despite the fact that both a grand jury and a federal investigation had found no basis with which to charge him in connection with the death of Garner during his arrest in 2014.
The officer’s attorney, Stuart London, told reporters at a Police Benevolent Association (PBA) press conference afterwards that NYPD had backed out of a deal at the last minute that would have allowed Officer Pantaleo to keep his vested pension earned over 13 years on the police force.
London said that as of Friday, NYPD was preparing the pension paperwork for the officer and then he received a text, shortly after the mayor and the police commissioner did a press conference together, telling him the paperwork wasn’t coming.
The attorney said that for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the justice that he had publicly promised so many times to the Garner family had to be a firing with no pension for Officer Pantaleo.
Commissioner O’Neill denied that City Hall had pressured him to fire the officer.
Mullins said Sgt. Adonis accepted the deal because it did not require her to admit any wrongdoing or failure to supervise.
“We believe that the NYPD disciplinary system is unfair,” the union president explained. “It has been widely criticized as biased and fraught with cronyism and white-shirt privilege. We could not chance sending a completely innocent sergeant to trial in a system where Commissioner O’Neill made a deal and backed away from it in the very last minute.”
He said Sgt. Adonis didn’t want to put her future in the hands of the commissioner.
“She walked away from a broken system with her dignity intact,” Mullins said. “She simply refused to play pawn to the city’s politics any longer.”
Then the sergeant’s union president went on to explain that “white-shirt privilege” was protecting the people who were really responsible for what happened the night that Garner died.
He said he NYPD has never admitted that that the assigned patrol supervisor was the anti-crime sergeant, in violation of a policy that said the same sergeant can’t be cover both supervisory roles.
Mullins said that commanding officer made those decisions that were “a prohibited practice” within the very same department guidelines that held Sgt. Adonis and Officer Pantaleo accountable.
“How does the very same commanding officer in charge of this command end up being promoted to chief when his sergeant forfeits 20 days and an officer loses his job?” Mullins asked.
“The tentacles of this culture of misconduct and malfeasance run deep and go to the highest levels of this department,” he said. “Ironically, Commissioner O’Neill supports the publication of police officers’ discipline records. So much so that the NYPD violated Officer Pantaleo’s rights to 50A with the publication of the Trial Commissioner Maldonado’s report late Sunday night.”
The union president was referencing the fact that the report recommending Officer Pantaleo’s termination had been leaked to the media ahead of the announcement of his firing.
Mullins said that Sgt. Adonis had been “inexplicably charged with failure to supervise by then Commissioner Bratton” 18 months after Garner died, just inside the window for charging, “to placate anti-police activists, the Garner family emissaries, she was then placed on modified duty for three and a half years.”
“As we stand here right now, no one’s ever told us what she failed to supervise so what I believe is… Commissioner Bratton under pressure from public outcry decided to take the young, inexperienced [Sgt. Adonis]… and label her as a failure to supervise… she was 26 days out of the academy,” he said.
“The NYPD has fallen apart at the seams,” Mullins said, but reminded officers to “never quit. Do not back down. You are the only thing standing between evil and good.”
The union president scolded the commissioner and the mayor.
“Shame on both of you. Shame on you for allowing and contributing toward this path of destruction,” he said.
Then Mullins called for the police commissioner’s resignation.
“The fact of the matter is the members of the NYPD do not respect you,” he said. “They have no faith in your leadership. Nor do they trust you. This department needs to change immediately. Commissioner O’Neill, I ask you for the good of this department, I urge you to do what is right and resign immediately.”
“Mayor de Blasio, you will no longer be allowed to run this city on the backs of the working men and women of the NYPD,” Mullin warned. “If you were looking for a problem with the NYPD, we will accommodate you.”
He said that Officer Pantaleo’s fate “was predetermined on a stage in Iowa” as the mayor campaigned for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination.