LA supervisors vote to support statewide ban on sleeper hold

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Following the death of George Floyd, there are calls for a number of criminal justice reforms, including in California where support is growing for a ban on chokehold restraints.

When George Floyd died after having a police officer's knee on his neck, the movement to crack down on chokeholds came back to life.

Across the country, law enforcement agencies are rethinking their use of carotid restraints. Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom called for new restrictions on the chokeholds.

"At the end of the day, the carotid hold that literally is designed to stop people's blood from flowing into their brain - that has no place any longer in 21st century practices," Newsom said.

In L.A. County, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to support AB 1196, which would ban carotid artery restraints throughout the state. The board is also considering a measure to urge the L.A. County Sheriff's Department and the 46 other police departments within the county to ban or restrict the potentially fatal holds.

"We need to hold officers accountable for using carotid holds, but we can't hold law enforcement officers accountable if their own departments' rules book lets them off the hook," Supervisor Janice Hahn said.

L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says his department's use of force policy bans carotid restraints except in deadly force situations, and that it echoes those pushed by the Black Lives Matter Campaign Zero standards.

The Los Angeles Police Commission on Monday placed a moratorium on the holds, which were already heavily restricted in the department.

"LAPD banned the use of the chokehold, if you will, and limited it to only deadly force situations," said ABC7 law enforcement expert and former L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell.

Several other Southern California police agencies are also suspending the use of carotid artery restraints, including Pasadena, Santa Ana and El Monte. The Orange County Sheriff's Department suspended use of the carotid restraint hold, saying it is "evaluating its use and effectiveness as a compliance tool."

McDonnell says carotid artery restraints are generally used as a last resort, life or death measure and officers need to make sure they don't turn fatal.

"Look at their face, ensure that they're breathing and as soon as the resistance is over, and so is that use of force," he said.
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