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Fatal Incident Raises Question Of NYPD’s Continuing Use Of Chokeholds

Bonita Zelman Law > Fatal Incident Raises Question Of NYPD’s Continuing Use Of Chokeholds

Police in New York are prohibited from using chokeholds, although a man recently died after a police officer used a chokehold during his arrest.


The New York Police Department is prohibited from using chokeholds as a means to subdue an individual. The rule has been in effect since 1993.


Recently, an encounter between an unarmed man in New York City and law enforcement officers has led many to question whether officers are even aware of the chokehold ban. The incident has brought the issue of the use of deadly force to light.


Man died following incident with the NYPD


Earlier this summer, law enforcement officers attempted to arrest an African-American man in Staten Island. The police officers believed he was selling loose cigarettes that were untaxed.


During the encounter, a police officer placed his arm around the man’s neck, bringing him to the ground. During the incident, the man yelled, “I can’t breathe.” Bystanders recorded the entire event on video.


According to the report released by the New York City Medical Examiner’s office, the man was killed as a result of his neck and chest being compressed. The fatality has since been determined to be a homicide. The officers involved in the incident have been restricted to desk duty.


The use of chokeholds still common in NYPD


Despite the fact that law enforcement officers in New York are not allowed to use chokeholds, data from the Civilian Complaint Review Board suggests this tactic is still used among police officers.


The Civilian Complaint Review Board is tasked with investigating complaints of police abuse. According to the Board, it received 233 chokehold complaints in 2013. In all, those reports accounted for almost 4.5 percent of all allegations of excessive force received by the independent agency that year. From 2009 to 2013, the Board received in excess of 1,000 chokehold complaints.


The Board’s statistics show that the number of such complaints has been on the rise over the past decade. In 2003, just 2.3 percent of all allegations of excessive force involved the use of chokeholds.


Since the recent fatal incident in New York, some have questioned whether law enforcement officers are properly trained. If police officers received training regarding the types of force prohibited by the police department, some argue the number of incidents involving chokeholds would be much lower.


If you have been the victim of an inappropriate use of force by the NYPD or if you have lost a loved one due to police brutality, you should be aware of your rights. Consider talking to a skilled civil rights attorney, who will work on your behalf to safeguard your interests.


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