Judge Rejects New York City’s Ban on Cops Compressing Suspects’ Diaphragms

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Recent years have seen a string of high-profile deaths brought on by police officers restricting people’s breathing during arrest, leading some cities to reconsider cops’ use of chokeholds and similar tactics. For instance, last summer, in the wake of George Floyd’s death, New York City passed a law banning police from “restraining 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.”

But New York City cops and their unions objected to the law, which made such actions a misdemeanor crime. Police unions sued over the law last August, saying it was too vague and had a “chilling effect” on their conduct (um, isn’t that the point?).

Now, a state judge in New York has partially taken their side.

In a Tuesday ruling, Judge Laurence Love struck down the portion of the law related to compressing a suspects’ diaphragm, calling it “unconstitutionally vague.” The diaphragm language “cannot be adequately defined as written,” he opined.

Love’s ruling did not affect the first portion of the law, related to restricting compressing the windpipe or the carotid arteries.

Notably, the NYPD has banned the use of chokeholds by police since 1993. But advocates of the new law argued that the NYPD’s internal ban on chokeholds was ineffective, as they were still widely used (and abused) by city cops with little consequence—a practice tragically showcased by Officer Daniel Pantaleo’s 2014 killing of Eric Garner.

Both the New York City law and a state law passed last summer (Senate Bill S6670B) attempt to actually set consequences for cops who don’t follow that policy. The state law made it a crime for police officers or peace officers to obstruct breathing or blood circulation, or use a chokehold or similar restraint, that results in serious physical injury or death.


FREE MINDS

Trans girl sports ban vetoed. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, vetoed a ban on transgender girls participating in women’s sports teams. Edwards called the law—which cleared the state’s Senate 29–6 and the House 78–19—a “solution in search of a problem that does not exist in Louisiana.” The measure could still become law, however, as the margins of victory are wide enough to override Edwards’ veto. But “the Legislature has never in its history called itself back to Baton Rouge for a special veto override session,” notes The Advocate.


FREE MARKETS

Connecticut just became the 19th state to legalize recreational marijuana. Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, signed the new legislation into law on Tuesday. “People age 21 and older will be allowed to possess and consume marijuana beginning on July 1 under the new law, which also lays the groundwork for a new cannabis industry in the state and attempts to address racial inequities stemming from the nation’s war on drugs,” reports USA Today.

Though the 19th state to legalize it and the fourth this year,

Connecticut is one of the only states whose law clears marijuana convictions under certain conditions (it will automatically clear records from Jan. 1, 2000 through Sept. 30, 2015).…Montana, Michigan, New York, Utah, Vermont and Virginia are the only others that automatically clear marijuana convictions with conditions. Arizona will begin expungements next month.


QUICK HITS

• Senate Republicans used a filibuster to block a voting bill yesterday. “Democrats’ best remaining hope to enact legal changes rests on a long-shot bid to eliminate the legislative filibuster, which Republicans used on Tuesday to block the measure, called the For the People Act,” notes The New York Times.

• Students are suing over Indiana University’s vaccine mandate.

• A federal judge has permanently struck down an Iowa law passed in 2020 mandating a 24-hour waiting period for people seeking abortions. “In a 28-page ruling on Monday, Judge Mitchell E. Turner found that the law violated the state’s constitution because it was passed as an amendment to an unrelated measure. He also found that the measure was similar to a 72-hour waiting period on abortions that the Iowa Supreme Court struck down in 2018,” notes The Hill.

• The worst-case COVID-19 predictions turned out to be wrong. But so did the best case predictions, points out Ron Bailey.

• A new study suggests that not only can stress lead to graying hair, reducing stress can also lead to re-pigmentation of hair. “Our data add to a growing body of evidence demonstrating that human aging is not a linear, fixed biological process but may, at least in part, be halted or even temporarily reversed,” said senior study author Martin Picard.

• State attorneys general are reportedly filing another antitrust lawsuit against Google, this one concerned with its Play Store. “The investigation by the state attorneys general is being led by Utah, Tennessee, North Carolina and New York. It is unclear how many states will participate,” says Reuters. The lawsuit would follow a federal lawsuit against Google filed by the Department of Justice and joined by prosecutors from 13 states last year.

• In other antitrust news…

• Andrew Yang has conceded in his bid to become New York’s next mayor. In a test of ranked choice voting, Democrats had 13 candidates on their ballots and could choose their top five, ranking them in order of preference. Results that came in late Tuesday showed Yang in fourth place, with Eric Adams leading among Democrats. On the GOP side, Curtis Sliwa took the lead.

• Buffalo, New York, could be getting a socialist mayor (though this depends on the direction of a large number of still-uncounted absentee ballots).

• Are Democrats coming around to voter ID laws?


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About The Author

Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Founded in 1968, Reason is the magazine of free minds and free markets. We produce hard-hitting independent journalism on civil liberties, politics, technology, culture, policy, and commerce. Reason exists outside of the left/right echo chamber. Our goal is to deliver fresh, unbiased information and insights to our readers, viewers, and listeners every day. Visit https://reason.com

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