New York Court Upholds Law Banning Chokeholds and Torso Compression During Arrests

New York Court Upholds Law Banning Chokeholds and Torso Compression During Arrests

The highest court in New York has upheld a law that prohibits police officers from using chokeholds or sitting, kneeling, or standing on someone’s torso during an arrest. The law, enacted after the death of George Floyd, had faced a legal challenge from police unions who argued that the rules regarding torso compression were too vague and would lead to excessive second-guessing of officers involved in physical struggles.

In a unanimous decision, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that the language of the law is clear enough. The court acknowledged the challenging situations police officers often face but emphasized that for officers to be held criminally liable under the law, they must have applied the banned force voluntarily and outside the parameters of justifiable use of physical force.

The court also determined that the law does not conflict with an existing state law that bans police chokeholds. The New York Police Department has long prohibited the use of chokeholds, and the state has a law named after Eric Garner, who died in 2014 after being placed in a chokehold by a New York City officer.

The city’s law not only bans chokeholds but also prohibits police from restraining individuals by sitting, kneeling, or standing on their chest or back in a manner that compresses the diaphragm. The Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York, along with other law enforcement unions, had sued the city over the law’s rules regarding torso compression, arguing that they were unclear.

John Nuthall, a spokesman for the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York, stated that while the ruling was not the outcome they had hoped for, it provides clarity to officers. He highlighted that the court’s decision requires a minimum proof that an officer’s action intentionally impedes a person’s ability to breathe, was not accidental, and was not a justifiable use of physical force.

This decision comes as governments across the country have implemented restrictions on the use of chokeholds and similar restraints by police following George Floyd’s death in 2020.

CrimeDoor
Author: CrimeDoor

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