NY State Supreme Court Reinstates Ban on Police Choke Holds During Arrests

By Caden Pearson
Caden Pearson
Caden Pearson
Caden Pearson is a reporter based in Australia. He has a background in screenwriting and documentary. Contact him on caden.pearson@epochtimes.com.au
May 21, 2022 Updated: May 21, 2022

A New York state law that bans police officers from using any move that makes it hard for a suspect to breath during an arrest, such as a choke hold, was reinstated Thursday.

The state’s Supreme Court Appellate Division overturned a June 2021 ruling that allowed the use of moves that compress the suspect’s diaphragm during arrests, New York Post reported.

Police unions and advocates brought the legal challenge to the Supreme Court last year, when Justice Laurence Love ruled the ban was “unconstitutionally vague.”

However, in reinstating the ban on Thursday, the Supreme Court Appellate Division said the previous ruling “should not have found the diaphragm compression ban to be unconstitutionally vague.”

“The diaphragm compression ban is sufficiently definite to give notice of the prohibited conduct and does not lack objective standards or create the potential for arbitrary or discriminatory enforcement,” the court’s First Judicial Department wrote.

“A trained police officer will be able to tell when the pressure he is exerting on a person’s chest or back, in the vicinity of the diaphragm, is making it hard for the person to breathe, just as a driver should be able to tell when the amount of alcohol he consumed is making it unsafe for him or her to drive (a proxy for high blood alcohol content) and a layperson should be able to tell when he or she is being too loud (a proxy for ability to hear the noise from a specified distance).”

After the ban was reinstated, a police union representative said they are reviewing their “legal options.”

“However, our city leaders need to realize that this ruling deals a direct blow to our fight against the violence that is tearing our city apart,” Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said.

“This ill-conceived law makes it virtually impossible for police officers to safely and legally take violent criminals into custody—the very job that New Yorkers are urgently asking us to do,” he added.

Local officials have also voiced their concern after the ruling was overturned.

A spokesman for Mayor Eric Adams has confirmed his support of cops using the measure, having previously appeared to flip flop in his stance towards the ban.

While on the campaign trail, Adams criticized the ban, saying it was “not realistic” for officers to follow. But once in office, his Law Department appealed the ruling in the lower court, New York Post reported.

But Adam’s spokesperson, Jonah Allon, said that as it is “currently written,” the law “will constrain police officers from being able to apprehend dangerous individuals.”

The highest-ranking law enforcement official in Richmond County, Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon said he was “angry and disappointed by the Appellate Division’s decision.”

“We expect [and] need police to respond to life [and] death situations, [and] this bill makes their job harder [and] in turn our city less safe,” he wrote on Twitter on Friday.

The controversial chokehold ban was passed by the City Council after the death of George Floyd in 2020.

Caden Pearson
Caden Pearson is a reporter based in Australia. He has a background in screenwriting and documentary. Contact him on caden.pearson@epochtimes.com.au