Tuesday, April 28, 2015
New Bill Would Ban Police Chokeholds Under Federal Law
Eric Garner died after being put into a police chokehold in Staten Island, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) is introducing legislation that would ban the often dangerous maneuver outright under federal law.
Jeffries announced his new bill, the Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act, Monday outside One Police Plaza in lower Manhattan with Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, at his side.
“The chokehold is a classic example of violent police tactics,” Jeffries said during the press conference. “It is an unreasonable measure. It is an unnecessary measure. It is an uncivilized measure. This bill will make it an unlawful measure.”
The legislation, set to be introduced in Congress Tuesday, defines a chokehold as “ the application of any pressure to the throat or windpipe which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce the intake of air.”
Although many police departments across the country, including in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia, prohibit or discourage cops from using chokeholds, the move is not explicitly illegal under federal law.
“It’s clear that department policy is not sufficient,” Jeffries said, pointing to the over 1,000 complaints regarding NYPD chokeholds sent to the Civilian Complaint Review Board from 2009 to 2013. (Only nine of those complaints were substantiated by the CCRB, and only one officer was disciplined -- by being docked some vacation days.)
Garner, a 47-year-old father of six, died last July after being put into a chokehold by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo during an arrest for allegedly selling untaxed “loosie” cigarettes. A video of the incident shows Garner screaming “I can’t breathe” 11 times before his body goes still.
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