Swipe to see connections

John Chell

John Chell shot a man to death in 2008, and a civil jury found he “intentionally discharged” his gun. The Adams administration put him in charge of the largest bureau in the NYPD.


  • Commanding Officer of 79th Precinct, NYPD
  • Commanding Officer of the 75th Precinct, NYPD
  • Commanding Officer of the Brooklyn South Detective Bureau, NYPD
  • Commanding Officer of the Brooklyn North Detective Bureau, NYPD
  • Lieutenant, Brooklyn South Larceny Squad, NYPD


  • Chief of Patrol, NYPD

Eric Adams ran for mayor as a police reformer who cared about police accountability. So some people were surprised when his NYPD Commissioner put a killer cop in charge of the department’s sprawling patrol bureau.

John Chell was a lieutenant in the NYPD’s Brooklyn South Larceny squad when he shot and killed Ortanzso Bovell in 2008. Chell said he fired accidentally, as he fell to the ground. He was never charged in the incident and the NYPD closed its own investigation without ever interviewing him. (The NYPD suggested this is a routine practice). But in a civil suit brought by Bovell’s mother, after hearing from witnesses, ballistics experts, and Chell himself, a jury decided that, notwithstanding his testimony, Chell had, in fact, intentionally fired his gun. They awarded Bovell’s mother $2.5 million. 

Chell also racked up 10 misconduct allegations over his career, for use of force, abuse of authority, and discourtesy. But in each instance, investigators either weren’t able to definitively prove the misconduct happened or they couldn’t get the person who complained to cooperate with their investigation. He was also a named defendant in several lawsuits, including one alleging that Chell discriminated against a cop under his command because he was Nigerian. That case was dismissed.

The NYPD did not respond to Hell Gate’s request for comment for this entry.

Despite all this, Chell continued to climb the ranks, and when Jeffrey Maddrey was made chief of department in 2022, Chell was installed as chief of patrol. Since then, Chell has been one of the most visible figures in Adams’s NYPD. He has presided over a dramatic escalation in dangerous NYPD car chases. It’s an escalation that was challenged by the NYPD chief of risk management— until he was fired.

Last summer, Chell was caught on video instructing police specifically to arrest accredited journalist (and Hell Gate contributor) Stephanie Keith as she was covering a protest, telling cops to “lock her up, lock her up!

The mayor and NYPD leadership returned from a tour of Israel over the summer enthusiastic about making wider use of police drones. Sure enough, the NYPD use of drones is skyrocketing, from surveillance of backyard holiday parties to people exercising their constitutional right to protest, with Chell selling the proliferation of drones to the public. Chell appeared as a guest on the radio show of legendary racist Sid Rosenberg to talk about a pro-Palestine protest in Bay Ridge, not objecting when Rosenberg described the protesters as “animals.” “There is the First Amendment we have to deal with,” he told Rosenberg, but when people resist police, “We’re gonna take care of business.”

Chell seems unbothered by the optics of questionable radio appearances. In November, Brooklyn prosecutors had to drop weapons charges against Inna Vernikov, the City Council member who brought a gun to a protest, because Chell’s NYPD didn’t bother to arrest her or secure her gun on the spot. A few days later, Chell made an appearance on a radio show hosted by Vernikov’s lawyer.

Last updated: 12/18/2023


Answers to

Jeffrey Maddrey

The top uniformed cop in the NYPD, despite a wild history of disciplinary charges.

In NYPD leadership with

Kaz Daughtry

Jeffrey Maddrey's hands-on protégé, now NYPD drone champion.

In NYPD leadership with

Edward Caban

The Adams administration's second police commissioner is a team player and a Masonic brother.

Jeffrey Maddrey

The top uniformed cop in the NYPD, despite a wild history of disciplinary charges.

Kaz Daughtry

Jeffrey Maddrey's hands-on protégé, now NYPD drone champion.

Edward Caban

The Adams administration's second police commissioner is a team player and a Masonic brother.

Bernard Adams

Younger brother Bernard Adams couldn't make it past the City's ethics board—but his wife, Sharon, sure did.

Dwayne Montgomery

An old friend the mayor doesn't care to claim, indicted in a straw donor scheme.

Lisa White

Eric Adams's former roommate (or is it landlord?) in charge of NYPD officer morale—too bad she tanks it.

Philip Banks III

From unindicted co-conspirator in a federal corruption case to Mayor Adams's deputy mayor for public safety in less than a decade.

Jacqui Williams

"Real estate is not to be toyed with here."

Marc Holliday

When you want to build a casino in Times Square, you hire the mayor's former chief of staff and host parties with Cara Delevingne.

Vito Pitta

The grandson of a hotel union boss whose family law firm is heading Adams's legal defense fund.

Rana Abbasova

Abbasova's job is to keep City Hall friendly with foreign governments. And maybe...they all became a little too friendly.

Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn

Bichotte Hermelyn is helping to stifle progressives at every turn, just how Eric Adams likes it. 

Brendan McGuire

When it comes to fending off a public corruption case, it doesn’t hurt to have a lawyer who has friends in the Southern District.

Evan Thies

A political consultant and one of the main architects of Adams's mayoral election, whom Adams described as "the man that captured my voice" and "my brother."

Max Young

Adams's comms director left the administration to work for Pfizer, but will he come back to help his old boss win reelection in 2025?

Brianna Suggs

Eric Adams hired her when she was 19. Six and a half years and millions of dollars in mayoral campaign fundraising later, the FBI raided her apartment.

Peter Koo

Senior advisor to the Deputy Mayor of Public Safety. What does that even mean, man?

Rachel Atcheson

A nice vegan caught up in a nasty campaign finance scandal.

Timothy Pearson

Timothy Pearson is Mayor Adams’s right-hand man—a hand that, at least once, curled into a fist.

Sheena Wright

The nonprofit professional (with a somewhat checkered past) is quickly rising through the ranks at City Hall.

David Banks

One of the Banks brothers, now finds himself at the top of a teetering schools system. 

Denise Felipe-Adams

An enthusiastic Adams loyalist dipping her toes into crypto.

Louis Molina

As Correction commissioner, he stymied jail oversight and presided over dozens of deaths of people in custody.

Ydanis Rodriguez

A ride-or-die Eric Adams campaign surrogate scored a powerful post overseeing NYC's streets, but so far that has meant taking a back seat to the mayor's bureaucrats.

Tiffany Raspberry

A lobbyist and long-time friend now has a lot of power in City Hall—and she's not afraid to use it.

Eric Ulrich

Gambling, tow trucks, pizza: the Manhattan DA's indictment against Adams's former building commissioner has it all.

Ingrid Lewis-Martin

Already a legendary and uniquely powerful force within the Adams administration, the mayor's most fiercely loyal deputy stares down a federal investigation into her boss' campaign.

Fabien Levy

Levy has risen in influence as his colleagues in the City Hall press shop have departed, and the deputy mayor runs interference for the mayor in his dealings with the press.

Sylvia Cowan

Former girlfriend with whom he still owns an apartment.

Tracey Collins

Adams's longtime girlfriend, who lives in Fort Lee, New Jersey, is rarely seen in his presence, and got a cushy promotion and a big raise after he became mayor.

Jenifer Rajkumar

Adams has called her a "beast." She thinks he's “the GOAT." 

Bishop Lamor Whitehead

The "Bling Bishop" and Eric Adams apparently don't speak anymore, but both say that God is on their side.


Jay-Z is a billionaire who wants things billionaires want—like a license to build a casino.

Eleonora Srugo

This high-powered real estate agent can be found at Casa Cipriani or Gracie Mansion.

Jordan Coleman

Eric Adams's literal son.

Robert and Zhan Petrosyants

Fun-loving twins who play host to the mayor at their trendy Italian eatery.

Billy Bildstein

The owner of Avant Gardner and Brooklyn Mirage fought the SLA and won (with help from powerful friends).

Scott Sartiano

How did the owner of Zero Bond score a seat on the Met's board? Probably not based on his resume, which we got our hands on.

Frank Carone

New York City's short king is the most connected man in town.

Steve Cohen

Steve Cohen wants two things—a Mets championship and a casino. Eric Adams can only really help him with one of those.

Tony Argento

New York City's homegrown film studio mogul is a Gotham power broker out of central casting.

Michael Mazzio

Michael Mazzio found himself getting shut out of the lucrative tow truck industry—until he found a friendly ear in City Hall.

Winnie Greco

Winnie Greco connected the Chinese business community to the future mayor. In return, he promised to build an arch.

Rich Maroko

The head of the Hotel and Gaming Trades Council bet big on Eric Adams becoming mayor. Will it pay off?

Brock Pierce

Crypto-enthusiast who says he's advising Adams on "all things crypto."

Victoria Schneps-Yunis

Queens newspaper magnate whose own rise mirrors that of Adams.

Douglas Durst

Real estate titan who wants to weaken New York City's climate laws.