Commissioner Bill Bratton went before the City Council yesterday to plead his case that fuck what y’all say, the NYPD is still gonna choke people and pretty much just keep doing everything it’s been doing.
The New York Times reports that while the NYPD is willing and poised to change the language of its chokehold ban to match the City Council’s proposed chokehold criminalization bill, Bratton is still opposed to the bill and is continuing to advocate for a loophole that would allow the NYPD to evaluate if an officer’s use of a banned chokehold was warranted after the officer uses a chokehold.
Currently, the NYPD rulebook defines a chokehold as “any pressure to the throat or windpipe, which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce the intake of air.” The City Council’s bill, whose language the NYPD will be adopting, defines the action as “to wrap an arm around or grip the neck in a manner that limits or cuts off either the flow of air by compressing the windpipe, or the flow of blood through the carotid arteries in each side of the neck.” Thus, the NYPD will be both narrowing and broadening what counts as a chokehold. By specifically defining and outlawing one action, it opens up gray areas to other interpretations that were closed before. As it’s written, it doesn’t say anything about crushing someone’s throat with a baton, for example. The City Council bill aims to make use of a chokehold by an officer a misdemeanor.
Bratton appeared before the City Council to discuss nine proposed bills that would reform the police department. He is opposed to all of them.
Councilman Ritchie Torres has noticed how Bratton (and the NYPD at large) act like they’re above the law. “I feel like there’s an attempt to delegitimize the City Council, to delegitimize the democratic process,” he told the Times.
Last year, Officer Daniel Pantaleo used a chokehold while arresting Eric Garner for selling untaxed cigarettes. Garner died and Pantaleo was cleared of wrongdoing. A report last year found that cops who use chokeholds are not held responsible for it. The NYPD is not to be trusted with evaluating itself.