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Justice Department restricts use of chokeholds and ‘no-knock’ warrants

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Tuesday that the Justice Department will tighten restrictions on when its agencies can use chokeholds, carotid restraints and no-knock entries. Garland said: “Building trust and confidence between law enforcement and the public we serve is central to our mission at the Justice Department. The limitations implemented today on the use of ‘chokeholds,’ ‘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.”

Under the new guidelines, federal law enforcement agents will be prohibited from using chokeholds and carotid restraints unless the use of deadly force is authorized. The Justice Department allows such force “when the officer has a reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person.”  The new Justice Department policies also limits the use of no-knock entries to the execution of warrants in situations where agents believing knocking and announcing before entry would create threat of physical violence.

The use of chokeholds has been under scrutiny after the 2014 death of New York City man Eric Garner, who died of compression of his neck and chest and his prone positioning on the ground as New York City Police officer Daniel Pantaleo held him in a chokehold on the ground. Garner, who had asthma, repeatedly told the police “I can’t breathe.”

Editorial credit: Mark Van Scyoc / Shutterstock.com

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