After the death of Staten Island man Eric Garner at the hands of members of the NYPD, much has been said about the chokehold that prompted his death in the first place.

And in the wake of the man’s death, protests have sprung up calling for – among other things – the elimination of the use of the chokehold by police to apprehend suspected criminals.

Now there’s legislation in New Jersey that would clarify when a chokehold used by the police would be considered illegal.

According to some members in the Assembly, bill (A4081) was introduced that states the use of chokeholds by law enforcement officers constitutes “deadly force,”

which is only justified “to protect the officer or another person from death or serious bodily injury, to arrest or prevent the escape of a violent criminal, or to prevent the commission of a violent crime.”

It sounds pretty simple.

Or I think it does, but does it hamstring the job of the cop responding to a call where a suspect may be trying to evade arrest.

First off, I think there needs to be a clearer definition of what constitutes a chokehold.

That wasn’t what brought down Eric Garner. What was used in that case is what police termed a “take down hold.”

A chokehold would completely block or break the suspects’ windpipe to constrain him and eventually bring him down.
That practice has been outlawed in NYC for some 20 years.

Oddly, the head of the New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police, Robert Fox, said he didn’t have a problem with it because it specifies that that the officers would only be in the wrong if they “knowingly” use the chokehold.

“My concern would have been if you get into a tussle with the guy and you put your arm on his head and it happens to slip down and choke him,” Fox said. “With the bill says knowingly I don’t think there’s a problem with it.”

That’s all well and good.

So here’s my question. Should a suspect try to evade arrest, what’s a police officer to do to bring him down?

I’m sure there must be other options – but the takedown hold, at least in the case of Garner, seemed to be the only option in their arsenal.

And just for the record, I’ve always held that the grand jury in the Garner case should have indicted the police officer.

Not for using the “take down” hold – but for all else following in the death of Garner.

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