*Now that the Staten Island Grand Jury has spoken and declined to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the murder of Eric Garner, it is reported that an African-American, female sergeant was on the scene that fateful day. Sergeant Kizzy Adoni, present during the detention and subsequent use of force, apparently failed to intercede on behalf of the obviously distressed and pleading Eric Garner.
As a black woman first and an honorably retired, twenty year veteran sergeant of the Los Angeles Police Department second, I am appalled by the seeming lack of leadership displayed by the sergeant on the scene during the #ICantBreathe incident. Having spent my entire career in patrol, I understand police culture and how patrol officers act and think. However, as a sergeant of police, I was expected to supervise, manage and control the field operations of the subordinate officers under my command. Being a supervisor in any profession requires one to be able and willing to make the tough and unpopular decisions; it goes along with the territory.
So then for a sergeant, and a black woman at that, to stand idly by and do nothing is egregious. Certainly, it is my hope that Commissioner Bratton takes a long, hard look at the activity of all of the other officers involved in the “wolf-packing” of Eric Garner as well as the failure to act on the part of that sergeant.
Let’s for the sake of argument, take race out of this equation and look at this incident as simply a human issue. Where was the humanity in every officer on scene? How could even the lowest ranking police officer standing within ear shot of Mr. Garner’s pleas not step in and put an end to the “pack” mentality? Was there not one among them that saw Mr. Garner as a human being whom deserved a dignified response to his pleas? Didn’t Sergeant Adoni realize the potency of her position? And finally, didn’t Sergeant Adoni know #BlackLivesMatter?
Eric Garner was swarmed by those officers much like a pack of hyenas attack prey in the wild. Eric Garner was not guilty of resisting arrest on that fateful day. Eric Garner was found to be in “contempt of cop” when he continued to question the officers’ authority and refused to submit to their authority.
Having said that, I do not believe that those police officers intended to kill Eric Garner. However, in their failure to recognize Garner’s humanity; in their inability to de-escalate the force being used; in their decision to offer no words of solace towards Eric Garner or recognize that there were enough of “them” against “him” to control the situation in a different way resulted in his death. The sergeant on scene had an affirmative responsibility to take control of the officers, the situation and thus Eric Garner. The sergeant failed.
Maybe it’s time that law enforcement officials require psychological re-evaluations of the officers working in patrol on an intermittent basis. Maybe it’s time to look for signs for those officers exhibiting a “pack mentality”. Let’s identify and remove those officers from the streets who have lost their humanity and then finally, let’s not promote any police officer who lacks the experience to lead and the personal integrity to refuse “to go along to get along.”
Cheryl Dorsey is a retired LAPD sergeant, speaker, and much sought after police expert on important issues making national headlines; as such she has appeared as a guest expert on the Dr. Phil Show. She writes and provides commentary on police culture and surviving police encounters. She is the author of The Creation of a Manifesto, Black & Blue; an autobiography that pulls the covers of the LAPD and provides an unfiltered look into the department’s internal processes. Visit Cheryl’s website www.cheryldorsey.net., listen to her on Soundcloud follow on Twitter @retLAPDsgt
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”~JFK