DOJ Announces Sweeping New Policy Banning Chokeholds by Federal Law Enforcement Agents

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Tuesday a sweeping new policy prohibiting the use of chokeholds by federal law enforcement agents.  The new policy nearly bans the use of chokeholds, except in rare circumstances and limits the circumstances on so-called “No-Knock” entries or warrants.​

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said ,”The new policies were intended to improve law enforcement safety and accountability. Build trust and confidence between law enforcement and the public we serve is central to our mission at the Justice Department.”

The use of chokeholds and ‘no knock warrants, when law enforcement enters a premises unannounced, have featured in several recent cases in the United States involving the deaths of Black men and women at the hands of police. Officers actually now only use chokeholds and carotid restraints when deadly force is authorized.

Eric Garner, a Black man, died in New York in 2014 after being put in a prohibited chokehold by police seeking to arrest him for illegally selling cigarettes.

Another African-American, George Floyd, died in May 2020 when a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck for nearly 10 minutes, a case which sparked protests against racial injustice and police brutality across the United States.

And a Black woman, Breonna Taylor, was killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky, in march 2020 in a botched raid on her apartment.

Directly following Chauvin’s conviction, Garland announced a DOJ investigation into policing practices of the Minnesota police department. He said the investigation includes examining discriminatory policing forces used by local authorities.

“The limitations implemented today on the use of ‘chokeholds and carotid restraints’ and ‘No-Knock’ warrants, combined with our recent expansion of body-worn cameras to DOJ’s federal agents, are among the important steps the department is taking to improve law enforcement safety and accountability,” Garland said.

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Garland added in a statement, “No-Knock entries will only be allowed in situations where an agent has reasonable grounds to believe that knocking and announcing the agent’s presence would create an imminent threat of physical violence to the agent and/or person.”

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