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: