The New York State Assembly on Monday approved the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act, which would criminalize the harmful use of chokeholds by police officers or peace officers.
The act would create a new crime of aggravated strangulation. This would occur when a police officer or peace officer obstructs breathing or blood circulation by using a chokehold or similar restraint, thereby causing physical injury or death to another person. This would be a Class C felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
The New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board reported 996 allegations from people who say they had been subjected to a chokehold between 2014 and 2020, even though the New York Police Department (NYPD) had banned the use of chokeholds in 1993.
Speaker Carl Heastie said, in support of the bill:
I have worked with my Assembly colleagues to reform our state’s broken criminal justice system. Holding law enforcement officers accountable for their actions is a necessary part of that. The NYPD ban on chokeholds was not enough to protect Eric Garner, and it is not enough today. This legislation will put an end to the practice across the state.
The bill still needs to be passed by the New York State Senate before it can be delivered to the governor and signed into law.