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Court reinstates New York City’s ban on police restraints

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An appeals court reinstated a New York City law Thursday that prohibits the city’s police officers from putting pressure on a person’s torso while making an arrest, reversing a lower court ruling that labeled the measure as “unconstitutionally vague.”

A five-judge panel in the appellate division of the state’s trial court ruled that the law, passed in 2020 in the wake of the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, is clear in what officers can and can’t do and won’t lead to arbitrary or discriminatory enforcement.

Manhattan Judge Laurence Love struck down the law last year after police unions sued the city to block it. The measure is sometimes referred to as the “diaphragm law” because it barred officers from restraining people “in a manner that compresses the diaphragm.”

In the wake of Love’s ruling, the city council considered revising the law, but that effort stalled.

The Police Benevolent Association said it was reviewing its legal options, which could include bringing the matter to the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.

The union’s president, Patrick Lynch, said Thursday’s ruling “deals a direct blow to our fight against the violence that is tearing our city apart.”

“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,” Lynch said in a written statement.

A messages seeking comment was left with lawyers for the city.

The newly reinstated New York City law is one of many police reforms enacted across the U.S. in the wake of Floyd’s death, which occurred as a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for about 9 1/2 minutes.

The law also outlaws the use of chokeholds by police officers. The NYPD has long banned that tactic, which is also illegal under state law.

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