Establishes the crime of aggravated strangulation for police officers or peace officers where such officer commits the crime of criminal obstruction or breathing or blood circulation, or uses a chokehold or similar restraint, and causes serious physical injury or death.
NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A6144B Revised 6/8/2020
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the penal law, in relation to establishing the crime of
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
Establishes criminal penalties for the use of a chokehold by a police or
peace officer causing serious physical injury or death.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
This act is designated the "Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act." The bill
amends the Penal Law by adding a new section, 121.13-a. This section
provides that a police or peace officer who: commits criminal
obstruction of breathing or blood circulation in violation of section
121.11 of the Penal Law, or uses a chokehold as defined in paragraph
(b) of subdivision one of section 837-t of the Executive Law or any
similar restraint, and thereby causes serious physical injury or death
to another person, would be guilty of Aggravated Strangulation. It
would be an affirmative defense that officer engaged in such conduct for
a valid medical purpose. Further, the bill adds this offense to the
list of violent felony offenses set forth in section 70.02 of the Penal
In 1993, the New York City Police Department completely banned its offi-
cers from using a procedure commonly referred to as a "chokehold." The
NYPD patrol guide bans chokeholds, defined as "includ
ing, but ... not
limited to, any pressure to the throat or windpipe which may prevent or
hinder breathing to reduce intakes of air"
SEE ALSO Barry Paddock and
Thomas Tracy,"NYPD Patrol Guide Clearly States Members Cannot Use Choke-
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS (July 18, 2014).
Despite the ban, Bronx resident Anthony Baez died in 1994 as a result of
a chokehold. Baez' had been throwing a football with friends; the foot-
ball apparently hit a police car. Baez was unarmed. The officer was
ultimately tried before a federal jury and convicted.
On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner, who was also unarmed and accused of sell-
ing loose cigarettes, was placed in a chokehold by an officer of the
NYPD. Despite Mr. Garner's audible pleas that he could not breathe, the
officers proceeded to put him in handcuffs, face down. He died later at
It is clear the NYPD's administrative ban on the use of chokeholds is
not sufficient to prevent police officers from using this method to
restrain individuals they are trying to arrest. Between 2014 and 2020,
the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board reported 996 allega-
tions from people who said they had been subjected to a chokehold; 276
in 2014, 172 in 2015, 139 in 2016, 132 in 2017, 129 in 2018, 116 in
2019, and 32 thus far in 2020(NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board, Data
Transparency Initiative, June 7, 2020).Not only has department ban not
been enforced, but there is evidence that the penalties for using a
chokehold have sometimes been little more than a loss of vacation time.
J. David Goodman,
THE NEW YORK TIMES (July 21, 2014).
The NYPD is either unable or unwilling to enforce its own patrol guide.
The use of chokeholds has resulted in deaths, and its use continues
unabated. Criminal sanctions must be established for those who continue
to engage in this banned procedure.
It is noted that defenses and affirmative defenses in the Penal Law
would potentially be available here as with any crime, when applicable;
among those of relevance might be those in Article 35 of the Penal Law.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2019-20: A.6114A; referred to Codes 2017-18: A.1699; referred to codes
2015-16: A3361; Referred to Codes / S346; Referred to Codes
2014:A10170; Referred to Codes / S7929; Referred to Rules
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS:
STATE OF NEW YORK
2019-2020 Regular Sessions
February 28, 2019
Introduced by M. of A. MOSLEY, REYES, BLAKE, OTIS, CARROLL, L. ROSEN-
THAL, PICHARDO, EPSTEIN, HUNTER, NIOU, SIMON, RICHARDSON, CRESPO,
RODRIGUEZ, LIFTON, JOYNER, SIMOTAS, BICHOTTE, GLICK, DAVILA, VANEL,
ORTIZ -- read once and referred to the Committee on Codes -- committee
discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted
to said committee -- recommitted to the Committee on Codes in accord-
ance with Assembly Rule 3, sec. 2 -- committee discharged, bill
amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said commit-
AN ACT to amend the penal law, in relation to establishing the crime of
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-bly, do enact as follows:
1 Section 1. Short title. This act shall be known and may be cited as
2 the "Eric Garner anti-chokehold act".
3 § 2. The penal law is amended by adding a new section 121.13-a to read
4 as follows:
5 § 121.13-a Aggravated strangulation.
6 A person is guilty of aggravated strangulation when, being a police
7 officer as defined in subdivision thirty-four of section 1.20 of the
8 criminal procedure law or a peace officer as defined in section 2.10 of
9 the criminal procedure law, he or she commits the crime of criminal
10 obstruction of breathing or blood circulation, as defined in section
11 121.11 of this article, or uses a chokehold or similar restraint, as
12 described in paragraph b of subdivision one of section eight hundred
13 thirty-seven-t of the executive law, and thereby causes serious physical
14 injury or death to another person.
15 Aggravated strangulation is a class C felony.
16 § 3. Section 121.14 of the penal law, as added by chapter 405 of the
17 laws of 2010, is amended to read as follows:
18 § 121.14 Medical or dental purpose.
EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
 is old law to be omitted.
A. 6144--B 2
1 For purposes of [sections] section 121.11, 121.12 [and], 121.13 or
2 121.13-a of this article, it shall be an affirmative defense that the
3 defendant performed such conduct for a valid medical or dental purpose.
4 § 4. Paragraph (b) of subdivision 1 of section 70.02 of the penal law,
5 as amended by chapter 476 of the laws of 2018, is amended to read as
7 (b) Class C violent felony offenses: an attempt to commit any of the
8 class B felonies set forth in paragraph (a) of this subdivision; aggra-
9 vated criminally negligent homicide as defined in section 125.11, aggra-
10 vated manslaughter in the second degree as defined in section 125.21,
11 aggravated sexual abuse in the second degree as defined in section
12 130.67, assault on a peace officer, police officer, firefighter or emer-
13 gency medical services professional as defined in section 120.08,
14 assault on a judge as defined in section 120.09, gang assault in the
15 second degree as defined in section 120.06, strangulation in the first
16 degree as defined in section 121.13, aggravated strangulation as defined
17 in section 121.13-a, burglary in the second degree as defined in section
18 140.25, robbery in the second degree as defined in section 160.10, crim-
19 inal possession of a weapon in the second degree as defined in section
20 265.03, criminal use of a firearm in the second degree as defined in
21 section 265.08, criminal sale of a firearm in the second degree as
22 defined in section 265.12, criminal sale of a firearm with the aid of a
23 minor as defined in section 265.14, aggravated criminal possession of a
24 weapon as defined in section 265.19, soliciting or providing support for
25 an act of terrorism in the first degree as defined in section 490.15,
26 hindering prosecution of terrorism in the second degree as defined in
27 section 490.30, and criminal possession of a chemical weapon or biolog-
28 ical weapon in the third degree as defined in section 490.37.
29 § 5. This act shall take effect immediately.