NEW YORK (AP) — An appeals court has reinstated a New York City law that prohibits the city’s police officers from putting pressure on a person’s torso while making an arrest.
That reverses a lower court ruling which labeled the measure “unconstitutionally vague.” The court ruled Thursday the law is clear in what officers can and can’t do, and won’t lead to arbitrary or discriminatory enforcement.
The law was passed in 2020 in the wake of the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd. Police union President Patrick Lynch criticized the ruling, and the union says it’s reviewing its legal options.
“However, our city leaders need to realize that this ruling deals a direct blow to our fight against the violence that is tearing our city apart,” Lynch said. “This ill-conceived law makes it virtually impossible for police officers to safely and legally take violent criminals into custody — the very job that New Yorkers are urgently asking us to do.”
Police unions had sued over the criminalization of chokeholds. Their 2020 lawsuit said the law threatened officers with “fines and imprisonment for doing their jobs in good faith with no intent to harm a suspect, nor even any requirement that a suspect suffer injury.” Former Mayor Bill de Blasio, when he signed the bill into law, said he was confident the reforms would work.
“I believe we can find a way to hear those real concerns, to keep people safe, to retrain our officers the right way,” he said at the time. But I also believe that we need to acknowledge those concerns, because they’re saying in the effort to keep us safe, they want to make sure they can do their job on our behalf, and I take that as an honest concern.”