U.S. News


Civilian Board Tracks Rise In NYPD Chokeholds

A civilian-run NYPD oversight panel released a report Tuesday that says NYPD chokehold complaints have risen drastically in the past 14 years.
Posted at 7:55 AM, Oct 08, 2014

A civilian-run NYPD oversight panel released a report Tuesday that says while complaints of the police departments' use of chokeholds has risen drastically over the past 14 years.

The Civilian Complaint Review Board was created following the death of a New York man, Eric Garner, who died after NYPD officers put him in a chokehold three months ago — an incident that sparked outrage in the community and put a national spotlight on police force tactics.

While chokeholds gradually decreased in recent years, the board's analysis recorded 219 chokehold complaints from July 2013 to June 2014 — the highest amount since 2010 and more than double the complaints in 2001. (Video via NY1)

The reports also says 156 chokehold complaints were not classified by the CCRB as chokeholds because their evidence showed officers employed "degraded interpretations" of the current policy. Basically, they claim police officers interpreted what constitutes a chokehold differently.

CCRB also says the official Patrol Guide reads: "Members of the New York City Police Department will NOT use chokeholds. A chokehold shall include, but is not limited to, any pressure to the throat or windpipe, which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air." It's the word "may" that that raised the CCRB's suspicions.

But the CCRB report also quotes a former NYPD police chief who served when the chokehold ban was put in place two decades ago. He previously said, unless it's a life-threatening situation, the interpretation is more cut-and-dry.

"As a matter of policy choke holds are forbidden. [B]asically, stay the hell away from the neck … That's what it [the policy] says."

Regardless, some are skeptical of the findings, including the president of New York City's police union, who said the results aren't reliable.

PATROLMEN'S BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT PATRICK LYNCH VIA WNBC: "You cannot put any credit in a report that's based on uncorroborated, unsubstantiated and unsworn complaints, many times, by criminals."

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke out on the report as well. 

He's quoted in The Wall Street Journal saying, "This report recognizes the concrete steps the police commissioner has already taken — from ordering an extensive new retraining program to a review of all provisions of the current Patrol Guide related to use of force."

The report comes a day after the family of Eric Garner filed a $75 million lawsuit against the city, the NYPD and six officers involved with the deadly incident. 

A grand jury in that case is still hearing evidence to help them decide whether two of the officers will face criminal charges for Garner's death.

This video contains images from Getty Images.