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DoJ Ruling Could Help Choke-Hold Cop Avoid Any Discipline

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U.S. Attorney Accepts Theory Advanced By Officer's Lawyer and a Law Professor

WASHINGTON - TelAve -- The Department of Justice has held that the NYC police officer who allegedly used a choke hold will not face federal prosecution - a ruling which could also help protect him in his departmental hearing - because the prosecutor accepted the theory of the event urged by his lawyer.

        According to USA Today, U.S. attorney Richard P. Donoghue said that officer "Pantaleo inadvertently grab[ed] Garner by the neck"; tried to "employ an approved NYPD tactic of  a 'rear takedown' or 'seatbelt,' which is used to knock suspects off balance and bring them to the ground"; cited "the size difference between Pantaleo and Garner as a reason the police officer had trouble subduing Garner"; and that Pantaleo didn't intentionally place Garner in a choke hold.

        Two reenactments of the hold placed on Eric Garner, one at the trial of officer Daniel Pantaleo for allegedly committing a crime by using a banned choke hold, and another by professor Banzhaf, support the officer's claim.

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        The lawyer for Pantaleo has insisted that what his client actually used was an authorized seat belt maneuver which slipped as Garner struggled.

        To dramatize how this probably happened, the defense called Russell Jungg. He testified that the video showed a seat belt hold, not a choke hold.

        This is important, and much misunderstood, suggests Banzhaf, because the only "choke hold" which is prohibited is narrowly defined by police regulations as "any pressure to the throat or windpipe, which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air."

        Actually, notes Banzhaf, there are several types of holds involving the neck, and only one - putting pressure directly on the windpipe to restrict air flow - is prohibited.

        One version which is sometimes called the "seat belt" maneuver or take down, and is widely taught and practiced by many police departments, apparently including New York City's.

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        To illustrate how an attempt to use the approved seat belt maneuver could fail when used on a huge perp and result in some incidental contact with the neck, Jung put on a demonstration with a volunteer showing different holds and take downs.

        The "choke hold," which is prohibited, is defined police department regulations as "any pressure to the throat or windpipe, which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air."


http://banzhaf.net/  jbanzhaf3ATgmail.com  @profbanzhaf

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Source: Public Interest Law Professor John Banzhaf
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