Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Monday he would not support legislation to make chokeholds illegal in the city.
“I feel the department policies are sufficient,” Bratton said at an oversight hearing in front of the City Council’s committee for Public Safety. “If lawmakers want to try to make that against the law, then good luck, but I won’t support it.”
Eric Garner was placed in a chokehold and died while in police custody after officers tried to arrest him for allegedly selling loose cigarettes.
A Staten Island grand jury will hear evidence this month in Garner’s case, Richmond County District Attorney Daniel Donovan has said.
The incident was caught on video and in the weeks following other videos of apparent chokeholds by police officers emerged. Chokeholds have been against police procedure for several years, but are not illegal in New York, Bratton stressed.
“I don’t feel that there’s a law that’s necessary to deal with that issue,” Bratton said. “I think the existing system of department policy as well as a district attorney being able to look at ‘does it violate some other state law?’ — or in the case of the U.S. government ‘is it a civil rights violation involved?’ –” I think there are more than sufficient protocols in place to address it currently.”
Bratton declined to speak about the specifics of the Garner case.