New York police officer suspended over apparent chokehold incident

FILE PHOTO: The NYPD watch demonstrators protest against racial inequality in the aftermath of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in New York City, New York, U.S. June 11, 2020. Picture taken June 11, 2020. REUTERS/Idris Solomon

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A New York police officer was suspended on Sunday after a video posted online appeared to show him rendering a Black man unconscious in a chokehold during an arrest, a few days after city councillors voted to make it a crime for police to use the grip.

Scrutiny of the police has intensified across the country in the wake of the May 25 death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, during an arrest in Minneapolis. Video showed a white officer with his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea called the apparent chokehold incident in New York “disturbing” and said the officer had been suspended without pay pending a full investigation. Shea also criticized the insulting language the arrested man had used.

Shea said on Monday that the officers involved had shown “extreme restraint” in the minutes leading up to the apparent chokehold, in which three men, including the one who was taken down, cursed at the officers.

“I think people should be condemning the acts, in my opinion, of the individuals, the language they used,” Shea told New York Attorney Letitia James during a public hearing. James is investigating the use of force by police against protesters in the weeks since Floyd’s death.

“I feel most bad for the people that have to walk by on that boardwalk,” Shea said. “But at the end of that story, an officer put his hand around a person’s neck, and that person was dealt swiftly with, was suspended.”

Cellphone and police body-cam videos showed many officers restraining the man on his stomach and one officer wrapping his arm around the man’s neck. The New York Police Department banned chokeholds in 1993.

The man was arrested for being “disorderly” and was hospitalized after briefly falling unconscious, according to his lawyers at Queens Defenders. They called on the arresting officer to be prosecuted.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Paul Simao

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