Trenton – In response to the senseless murder of George Floyd, Senator Shirley Turner introduced legislation today to classify the use of chokeholds by law enforcement officers as deadly force.
“The death of George Floyd at the hands of the police is something we have seen far too many times before. Mr. Floyd was not a violent criminal and had not threatened the safety of the officers arresting him. He should be alive today,” said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon/Mercer). “This legislation will ensure that officers in New Jersey are not using these deadly restraints unless it is absolutely necessary to protect the safety of others.”
Floyd’s death due to police’s use of a chokehold is not an isolated incident. In 2014, Eric Garner was killed by New York City police officers who used a chokehold in the process of his arrest.
The bill would clarify that the use of a chokehold by a law enforcement officer constitutes deadly force. This would include knowingly putting pressure on the throat, windpipe or carotid artery, and hindering or preventing the ability to breathe or interfering with the flow of blood from the heart to the brain.
Under current law, the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer is only justifiable if it is necessary to protect themselves or someone else from death or serious injury, to arrest or prevent the escape of a violent criminal or to prevent a violent crime.
This bill provides that a law enforcement officer is not justified in choking another person unless confronted with one of these dangerous situations.