New York appeals court reinstates chokehold ban

A New York Appellate Division court Thursday ruled to reinstate the state’s chokehold ban. Section 10-181 of New York’s administrative code, known as the “diaphragm law,” was passed in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd. The law states:

No person shall restrain an individual in a manner that restricts the flow of air or blood by compressing the windpipe or the carotid arteries on each side of the neck, or sitting, kneeling, or standing on the chest or back in a manner that compresses the diaphragm, in the course of effecting or attempting to effect an arrest.

The Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York, a police labor union, argued that the ban is too “imprecise” and “open-ended” to enforce. In 2021, a trial court agreed, declared § 10-181 unconstitutionally vague and permanently banned enforcement of the law.

However, an appeals court held Thursday that the lower court “should not have found the diaphragm compression ban to be unconstitutionally vague.” The court reasoned that “[t]he diaphragm compression ban is sufficiently definite to give notice of the prohibited conduct and does not lack objective standards or create the potential for arbitrary or discriminatory enforcement[.]” The court further wrote that a trained police officer must be able to detect when the pressure exerted on a person’s chest or back causes a difficulty breathing in a detainee.