A judge struck down and called “unconstitutionally vague” a New York City Council law that banned officers from putting pressure on a person’s torso while making an arrest, CBS reported Tuesday.
Police unions brought a lawsuit against the “diaphragm law,” which stopped officers from restraining people “in a manner that compresses the diaphragm,” according to CBS.
Manhattan Judge Laurence Love wrote in an opinion that there’s a possibility of confusion due to the poor phrasing, according to CBS.
Love said that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) created training material and restrictions on sitting, kneeling, or standing on a person’s chest or back, but failed to give a legal definition of “compresses the diaphragm,” according to CBS.
He also refused the city’s request to remove that section of the law, saying he won’t act as a city lawmaker in the court, according to the New York Post. “It is this Court’s sincere hope that the New York City Council will revisit this issue to address this vital matter,” Love said, according to the New York Post.
Diaphragm Compression Law Defeated! Please see the important info below! pic.twitter.com/d0lRdck8qt
— SBA (@SBANYPD) June 22, 2021
Lawyers for the police unions said removing the “diaphragm law” would’ve made the bill even vaguer, according to CBS. They argued it could leave police open to charges for sitting, kneeling, or standing on a person’s chest or back regardless of the amount of pressure, for how long, and whether it stopped the person from breathing, according to CBS.
New York City’s law department defended the bill in court and said it is “reviewing its legal options,” according to CBS.
Chokeholds are already illegal under a New York state law passed in August 2019. (RELATED: Concerned About Violent Crime, New Yorkers Are Hiring Private Security)
The New York City Council passed multiple police reform laws in March, one of which ends qualified immunity for officers. New York City police officers will be more susceptible to being sued in civil lawsuits.
NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said in July 2020 that officers shouldn’t be afraid of breaking the chokehold ban because they won’t be prosecuted.
The New York City police reform laws were enacted in 2020 after George Floyd’s death, according to the New York Post.
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