SAN DIEGO, Calif. – A group of activists in San Diego are pushing for new restrictions over police officers using chokehold restraints when they’re dealing with dangerous suspects, and depending on the outcome, it could put the lives of officers at risk.
A large group of activists, community members, professors and others gathered at San Diego State University’s Black Resource Center on Monday to call for the ban of police chokeholds, calling the act inhumane and saying that it could lead to death or other lifelong effects.
They called the town hall meeting the “I Can’t Breathe Campaign” in light of Eric Garner’s statements while being restrained by a member of the NYPD years ago before he died in police custody.
Join us as the Racial Justice Coalition and the Black Resource Center host the next town-hall for the “I Can’t Breathe Campaign” aka Ban the Chokehold in San Diego.
Doors: 5:30 PM – 6:00 PM
Event; 6:00 PM -… https://t.co/bBKM5oFCGM
— Bishop Cornelius Bowser Sr. (@Tshombe77) September 30, 2019
Currently, police in San Diego are not authorized to use chokeholds unless their lives are in danger. They are, however, able to use something referred to as the “carotid restraint”, in which a strategic hold on the carotid artery causes the suspect to pass out.
As any officer will tell you, the hold could very well mean the difference between life and death, both for the officer and/or the suspect.
But no matter the situation, the Racial Justice Coalition says that chokeholds are never warranted.
Darwin Fishman, a lecturer at San Diego State University, said that the restraints were too often used against minorities.
“We waited until Eric Garner was killed before we started talking about chokeholds,” Fishman said. “It doesn’t have to be the case that we just respond to crisis.”
A mother from the community raised her concerns over police use of force.
“That’s every mother’s nightmare, to be called that your son was locked up, or worse, that your son is in the hospital and is brain dead because these are all the things the chokehold can do,” Buki Domingos said at the gathering.
Domingos said that the carotid restraint should be banned as well, calling it just as dangerous as the chokehold.
“One is not very far from the other and the human neck is not that big,” she said.
NBC San Diego reported that the SDPD used carotid restraints over 570 times between 2013 and 2018, according to data gathered in a public records request. The past two years of data shows less than a quarter of all those restrained were black.
— Dave Summers (@DaveSummersNBC7) October 1, 2019
The San Diego department advised that they had recently changed the protocol over neck restraints during the summer. They said that now anyone who had been put in the carotid restraint would be required to be brought to the hospital following the encounter.
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California just recently signed Assembly Bill 392 into effect, which changes the criteria in which an officer is authorized to issued deadly force. It has been called the strongest piece of legislation ever concerning police use of force. Though it does not concern neck restraints, the activist group is pushing to add the hold to the list of “lethal force” measures.
Critics say that the new law surrounding deadly force puts police officers at a greater risk of injury or death. It is way too easy for a grand jury, a judge or a trial jury to Monday morning quarterback the situation from the safety of the courtroom. It is easy to look at the totality of circumstances after the fact. Officers have to make a split-second decision. They do not always have access to the totality.
This legislation uses vague terminology to the detriment of our police officers, their safety and their decision-making process.
They said the laws could make officers hesitate for a fatal second if they have to consider alternatives to lethal force. That’s what Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff Julie Robertson faced. She testified how her partner, Mark Stasyuk, died last fall during a gunfight and she hesitated as the suspect shot at her with only his back exposed.
“I recall in that moment thinking that if I were to shoot him in the back, I would be the next officer in the news being scrutinized for my actions,” Robertson said. “The thought of having to second-guess my actions in that moment is frightening. This bill makes me wonder if sacrificing everything is worth it.”
Why are legislators okay with putting our officers into such a precarious situation? Why would we put these men and women in a situation that forces them to hesitate and second-guess themselves in split-second, life or death scenarios?
These are questions that continue to be asked.
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