NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A10170
SPONSOR: Rules (Mosley)
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the penal law, in relation to estab-
lishing the crime of strangulation in the first degree; disregard of
banned employment procedures
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
Establishes penalties for the use of a chokehold.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section 1. Amends the penal law, section 121.11. Provides that a person
who uses any procedure known as a chokehold shall be guilty of criminal
obstruction of breathing or blood circulation.
Section 2. Amends the penal law by adding a new section, 121.13-a.
Establishes the crime of strangulation in the first degree; disregard of
banned employment procedures. Provides that a person commits strangula-
tion in the first degree when he or she disregards any procedure banned
by his or her employment, commits the crime of criminal obstruction of
breathing or blood circulation as defined in section 121.11 and causes
serious physical injury or death to another person. Strangulation in the
first degree; disregard of banned employment procedures shall be a class
Section 3. Effective Date
Article 121 of the penal law establishes penalties for strangulation and
related offenses and creates the crimes of criminal obstruction and
strangulation, and strangulation in the first and second degrees.
In 1993, the New York City Police Department completely banned its offi-
cers from using a procedure commonly referred to as a "chokehold."
According to the NY Daily News: "Members of the NYPD will NOT use choke-
holds," the NYPD patrol guide clearly states. "A chokehold shall
include, but is not limited to, any pressure to the throat or windpipe
which may prevent or hinder breathing to reduce intakes of air" (NYPD
patrol guide clearly states members cannot use chokeholds; New York
Daily News Barry Paddock, Thomas Tracy; Friday, July 18, 2014).
Despite the ban, Bronx resident Anthony Baez died in 1994 as a result of
a chokehold. Baez's crime was throwing a football with some friends and
the football hit a cop's car. He was unarmed. The officer was ultimately
tried by a federal jury and convicted.
On Thursday, July 17, 2014, Eric Garner, who was also unarmed and
accused of selling loose cigarettes, was placed in a chokehold by an
officer of the NYPD. Despite Mr. Garner's audible pleas that he could
not breathe, the officers proceeded to put him in handcuffs. He died
later at the hospital.
It is clear that the NYPD's ban on the use of chokeholds is not suffi-
cient to prevent police officers from using this method to restrain
individuals whom they are trying to arrest. Between 2009 and 2013, the
Civilian Complaint Review Board substantiated nine complaints by people
who said they had been subjected to a chokehold. Not only has this
supposed ban not been enforced, there is evidence that the penalties for
using a chokehold have resulted in little more than the loss of vacation
time. (New York Times, J. David Goodman, July 21, 2014).
It is obvious that the NYPD is either unable or unwilling to enforce its
own employee manual. The use of chokeholds has resulted in too many
deaths. Criminal sanctions must be established for those who continue to
disregard this banned procedure.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
None to state.