New York’s highest court on Monday upheld a New York City law that prohibits police from using chokeholds or compressing a person’s diaphragm during an arrest, rejecting a challenge by police unions to a law passed after of the death of George Floyd.
The New York Court of Appeals, in a unanimous decision, ruled that the law is clear in its language and does not conflict with an existing state law prohibiting police from using chokeholds.
The city’s law emerged as governments across the country banned or severely limited the use of chokeholds or similar restraints by police following Floyd’s death in 2020, which occurred when a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes.
The New York City Police Benevolent Association, along with other law enforcement unions, sued the city over its law and have argued that its language is vague about what officers can do during a arrest. In a statement, John Nuthall, spokesman for the New York City Police Benevolent Association, said the ruling will provide clarity to officers.
“While this is not the result we expected, the Court’s decision is a victory insofar as it will provide our officials with greater certainty regarding the statute, because according to this Court’s decision, it must be shown as minimum than an In fact, the officer’s action ‘impeded the person’s ability to breathe,’ ‘was not accidental,’ and was not a ‘justifiable use of physical force,’” Nuthall said.
The New York Police Department has long prohibited its officers from using chokeholds to subdue people. New York state also has a law prohibiting police chokeholds named after Eric Garner, who died when a New York Police Department officer placed him in a chokehold in 2014.
The city’s law, while prohibiting chokeholds, also includes a provision that prohibits officers from compressing a person’s diaphragm. Such compression, even when kneeling, sitting or standing on a person’s chest or back, can make breathing difficult.