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Unease Swirls Amid Belated Charges for Garner’s Death

(CN) - With a police sergeant now facing internal discipline related to the 2014 chokehold death of Eric Garner, many in New York City are questioning the timing and target of the charges.

Garner, 43, died on July 17, 2014, after drawing police attention for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes in the shadow of the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. Video of the incident captured officers wrestling the black suspect to the ground, with Garner losing consciousness in Officer Daniel Pantaleo's chokehold after gasping, "I can't breathe," at least nine times.

The medical examiner labeled Garner's death a homicide, but mourners and activists have largely been denied in their demands for a reckoning.

This past Friday, more than a year since a grand jury decided not to indict Pantaleo, the New York City Police Department stripped Pantaleo's supervisor, Sgt. Kizzy Adonis, of her badge and gun.

Placed on administrative duty, the sergeant faces four internal disciplinary counts of failure to supervise.

Calling it "ridiculous" that the city brought its first official charge of wrongdoing in the case against Adonis, Garner's daughter noted in column Monday that the sergeant is black, while Pantaleo is white.

"Adonis, who was promoted to sergeant two weeks before my dad's death, wasn't part of the team that piled on his back," Garner wrote on her website officialericagarner.com. "In the video that captured the incident, we all see Adonis creep away. What we didn't see? She went to the ambulance stationed on the corner of Bay Street. According to witnesses at the scene, Adonis spoke to an EMT and made an additional call for assistance - I guess no one else planned on saving my father's life that day.

Garner notes that Adonis was one of two supervisory officers at the scene, and questioned whether more charges are coming, insisting that "the 'failure to supervise' goes all the way to the top."

Speaking about the charges on Saturday at the headquarters of Al Sharpton's National Action Network in Harlem, Garner's widow, Esaw Garner, said she is still waiting for justice.

"It's a good thing, but it's still not enough," the widow said. "We need Daniel Pantaleo and the other officers that pounced on him like he was an animal."

"When they indict Daniel Pantaleo, then I'll jump for joy," Esaw Garner added. "Until then, I'm just going to keep going on, using your faith and my faith and the sight of God to see that they get what they deserve."

The New York Civil Liberties Union echoed this sentiment in a Monday post to its Facebook page.

"This is fine and good, but the much bigger issue is what is happening with Officer Pantaleo," the NYCLU post states. "There is ample basis for a federal prosecution."

Eric Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, spoke about the charges as well in a speech at the National Action Network event.

"Yeah, they have departmental charges brought up on this sergeant," Carr said. "But, it's not the sergeant. It's not Pantaleo. It's all of them. That's why we are so focused on the federal government coming in here. We want civil rights charges brought against all of them. Because, as far as I'm concerned, they all killed my son."

A investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice into Garner's death and Pantaleo's conduct is ongoing. The NYPD is awaiting the results of this federal investigation before moving forward with its own disciplinary measures concerning the case, The New York Times reported.

Meanwhile, Ed Mullins, the president of the NYC Sergeants Benevolent Association, denounced the charges against Adonis as "political pandering," the New York Post reported.

"She's right at that scene," Mullins reportedly said. "She hears him say, 'I can't breathe.' Does she do nothing? No, her driver is a trained EMT. She checks with [the EMT]. She did what the NYPD teaches her to do."

A story in SILive.com quoted Mullins saying Police Commissioner Bill Bratton "is scapegoating Sgt. Adonis because it is too politically dangerous to do otherwise in such a volatile social environment."

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