Recent high-profile cases have put the use of excessive force in New York City on the national stage once again. The unpunished chokehold death of an unarmed black man on Staten Island sparked protests, riots, and a media flurry this past year but chokeholds-and injuries associated with them-are not new. In fact, as the New York Times discovered, the NYPD has a long history of using (and some would say abusing) this controversial tactical response.
Allegations of excessive force in New York-specifically the unnecessary use of potentially lethal chokeholds-have been around for decades. In fact, in 1994 chokeholds were a topic of hot debate both in the media and within the NYPD itself after Anthony Baez Jr. was placed in a chokehold by an enraged officer after Baez's football hit the officer's patrol car. This was mere months after the NYPD officially denounced chokeholds and supervisors told patrolman to (in the words of Former Chief of Department John F. Timoney) "stay the hell away from the neck."
The Times spoke with a retired policeman Vincent E. Henry who said that even decades ago when he was in the academy, chokeholds were officially deemed a borderline practice verging on excessive force. Officer Henry said back then his instructors cautioned against the use of chokeholds saying they were "a strategy of last resort."
However, as the Times Investigation into excessive force in New York uncovered, many of the instances reported by victims show that officers used chokeholds before exhausting all options and in many cases resorted to chokeholds first-even for minor provocations.
In fact, The Civilian Complaint Review Board, charged with investigating any claims of excessive force in New York City, found that between 2009 and 2014 there were ten separate incidents involving chokeholds that could be substantiated by hard evidence.
Chokeholds are dangerous because they can cause a victim to lose consciousness within seconds and improper placement of the arms could crush the delicate bones in the throat, resulting in permanent injury, brain damage, or death.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of police brutality in any of the Five Boroughs, contact a New York City excessive force attorney immediately to discuss your case confidentially. You could be entitled to a financial settlement for your injuries and pain and suffering. Call the Law Offices of Nussin S. Fogel for a free consultation at (800) 734-9338 or (212) 385-1122 to learn your rights.