Monday, 21 Sep 2020

New York City Council to revisit chokehold ban, consider changes

NYPD officer shares his experience as a minority member of law enforcement

An anonymous police officer sits down with ‘Fox & Friends Weekend’ co-host Will Cain to tell all.

The New York City Council will re-examine a chokehold ban largely disputed by police for a current provision that makes it a misdemeanor for officers to sit, kneel or stand on a suspect’s chest or back, according to a report.

City Council member Donovan Richards, who chairs the Committee on Public Safety, will introduce an amendment to the “diaphragm” portion of the chokehold reform on Thursday that would adjust the language used, telling the New York Daily News that there “seems to have been some fuzzy interpretation of the bill that if an officer touches somebody’s back, they’re going to go to jail.”

“That was never the intention,” he told the outlet. “The intention was to make sure we never end up with a George Floyd situation in the city or another Eric Garner.”

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died May 25 after a White police officer held his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes, while Floyd was handcuffed and despite his shouts that he could not breathe. The incident was caught on cellphone video.

In 2014, 43-year-old Eric Garner, a Black man on Staten Island, died after he was placed in a chokehold while officers tried to arrest him for selling untaxed cigarettes. He had cried out “I can’t breathe” 11 times.

The original portion of the reform in question, dubbed the “diaphragm law,” bars a police officer or law enforcement agent in New York City from "sitting, kneeling or standing on the chest or back" of a subject.

According to the Daily News, Richards’ Thursday amendment would make changes to the ban specifically pertaining to that portion, instead barring officers from subduing a suspect “in a manner that restricts the flow of air or blood by (i) compressing the windpipe or carotid arteries on each side of the neck, or (ii) recklessly sitting, kneeling or standing on the chest or back, in a manner that compresses the diaphragm and causes injury,” the Daily News reported.

New York City police officers detain and question a man in the Bronx borough of New York in this undated photo (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Richards, a Democrat who represents Queens, further told the outlet that the New York Police Department (NYPD) “is running out of excuses.”

“For anybody who had a fuzzy interpretation of the bill, it’s now clear if you go out and violate any of these rules, you will be held accountable," he told the outlet.

The council is also set to vote on additional police reforms over the course of the upcoming weeks.

The NYPD’s unions on Wednesday said the only solution was to repeal the “diaphragm law” altogether, according to the New York Post.

A statement obtained by the outlet argues that simply “tinkering with the illegal, poorly written and hastily enacted diaphragm compression law will do nothing.”

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Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association – the NYPD’s largest union – said in his own statement that only a full repeal could “repair the damage from this insane law.”

“That won’t happen, because the mayor and City Council have no intention of actually fixing this problem,” Lynch wrote in his statement provided to Fox News. “They are content to blame cops for the mess they created. If they wanted us to be able to do our job safely and effectively, they would never have passed it in the first place.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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