High Court Upholds NYC’s Prohibition of Police Chokeholds and Diaphragm Compression

by Ethan Kim
NYPD Chokehold Ban

On Monday, the highest court in New York State affirmed the legality of a New York City statute that prohibits police officers from employing chokeholds or exerting pressure on an individual’s diaphragm during arrests. This ruling comes as a response to a legal challenge posed by police unions against a measure enacted subsequent to George Floyd’s demise.

The State’s Court of Appeals unanimously decreed that the statute’s wording is explicit and does not contradict another state law that already forbids chokeholds by police.

The enactment of this law in New York City is part of a nationwide trend, where multiple governments have either banned or significantly curtailed the use of chokeholds and similar methods by law enforcement, especially after Floyd’s death in 2020 due to a Minneapolis officer kneeling on his neck for an extended period.

The Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York and other law enforcement unions had filed a lawsuit against the city, arguing that the law’s terms were ambiguous regarding permissible actions during an arrest. John Nuthall, a representative for the Police Benevolent Association, expressed that although the ruling was not as anticipated, it at least brings clarity for officers regarding the law’s implications.

Nuthall stated, “The Court’s decision, albeit not what we desired, serves as a triumph to the extent that it offers our officers more precise guidance regarding the law. As per the Court’s judgment, it must be conclusively established that an officer’s action indeed ‘hindered the individual’s capacity to breathe,’ was ‘intentional,’ and was not a ‘legitimate exercise of physical force.'”

Historically, the New York Police Department has prohibited its officers from using chokeholds as a means of restraint. Additionally, there exists a state-wide law against police chokeholds, named in memory of Eric Garner, who died in 2014 after a New York Police Department officer used a chokehold on him.

Furthermore, the city’s legislation, apart from banning chokeholds, also includes a clause that forbids officers from compressing a person’s diaphragm. This kind of compression, whether by kneeling, sitting, or standing on an individual’s chest or back, can significantly impair breathing.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about NYPD Chokehold Ban

What was the decision of New York’s highest court regarding police chokeholds?

New York’s highest court upheld a New York City law that prohibits police officers from using chokeholds or compressing an individual’s diaphragm during arrests. The court ruled unanimously, affirming the law’s clarity and its non-contradiction with existing state laws.

Why was the NYPD chokehold ban challenged by police unions?

The NYPD chokehold ban was challenged by police unions, including the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York, due to concerns about the law’s language being vague regarding what actions officers are permitted to take during an arrest.

What is the significance of the court’s ruling on the NYPD chokehold ban?

The court’s ruling on the NYPD chokehold ban is significant as it provides clarity and legal affirmation to the law, ensuring that police officers understand the boundaries of permissible conduct during arrests, especially concerning chokeholds and diaphragm compression.

How does this ruling affect the actions of NYPD officers?

Following this ruling, NYPD officers are more clearly guided on the limitations of physical force during arrests, particularly concerning actions that could impede a person’s ability to breathe, such as chokeholds and diaphragm compression.

What precedent influenced the enactment of the NYPD chokehold ban?

The NYPD chokehold ban was influenced by the death of George Floyd in 2020 and is part of a broader movement across the United States to reform police conduct and restrict the use of chokeholds and similar restraints by law enforcement.

More about NYPD Chokehold Ban

  • NYPD Chokehold Ban Ruling Details
  • Legal Analysis of NYC’s Police Conduct Law
  • Background on George Floyd’s Death and Police Reform
  • Police Benevolent Association’s Stance on NYPD Law
  • Eric Garner Case and Its Impact on NYPD Policies
  • Nationwide Trends in Police Conduct Reform After 2020
  • Understanding State vs. City Police Regulations

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MikeJ_83 November 20, 2023 - 11:23 pm

This is huge step forward for NY, glad to see the courts upholding this. It’s about time we see some real change in how police handle arrests, especially after everything that happened with George Floyd.

SarahK_LI November 21, 2023 - 7:44 am

finally some good news! its high time that our police are held to higher standards. This law should be a no-brainer, really.

HannahBee November 21, 2023 - 12:58 pm

So important! The eric garner case still haunts me, and I’m relieved to see NY taking steps to ensure it never happens again. But will this be enough? Time will tell…

LegalEagleNY November 21, 2023 - 2:59 pm

Excellent analysis of the court’s decision. The clarity this brings to NYPD’s operational procedures is crucial. Still, I wonder how this will play out in real-world scenarios.

NYPD_Fan November 21, 2023 - 4:58 pm

Not sure how i feel about this, seems like it could make things tricky for cops in tough situations. where do we draw the line between necessary force and too much??


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