In early summer of 2014, a story from Staten Island made national news when a New York Police Department officer put civilian Eric Garner into a chokehold while arresting him for a petty crime. The officer kept the hold locked in too tightly and too long, and it led to Garner’s death.
This was not the only story this summer of NYPD officers using chokeholds inappropriately. In another frightening scenario, officers applied a chokehold to a woman who was seven months pregnant after accusing her of illegally using the sidewalk for grilling outside her apartment. Now, a NYC lawmaker is calling for an emphasis on the existing ban on chokeholds by police officers.
Rocy Lancman, a member of the New York City Council, says that the NYPD has failed to enforce the rule properly, which is evident from the more than 1,000 complaints between 2009 and 2013 regarding NYPD officers using chokeholds. The legislation that Lancman is introducing would give authorities the ability to prosecute criminally any officers who use a chokehold during an arrest.
Lancman has other legislation planned as well, including a bill that would require the NYPD to provide more thorough reports about the force used by officers during arrests. The NYPD is currently only required to file these reports when an officer discharges a firearm. Another bill would track the most-enforced low-level offenses by officers, which would help to ensure that officers do not unfairly target minorities.
Police brutality is a real problem in New York City and throughout the country. If you or anyone you know is injured or treated violently by an officer who is supposed to be enforcing the law and protecting the citizens’ safety, consult an attorney immediately to review your legal options.