Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the new policy Sept. 14 in an effort to “improve law enforcement safety and accountability.”
Responding to the announcement, Randy Sutton of The Wounded Blue says the word “chokehold” sounds cruel and inhumane but insists the tactic, known as carotid restraints, protects both the officer and the suspect.
“A carotid restraint cuts off the flow of oxygen for a very short period of time to the brain,” Sutton explains, “and that renders a suspect unconscious. So you can get them controlled and get them in handcuffs.”
Controversy over the chokehold is nothing new in law enforcement: a New York City police officer used an unauthorized chokehold to restrain Eric Garner in 2014 when he resisted arrest. The chokehold and officers sitting on the 300-pound man were blamed for a fatal asthma attack.
“I can’t breathe,” Garner repeatedly told officers as they fought to control him on a city sidewalk, where he was illegally selling cigarettes.
A grand jury declined to indict the police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, and the Trump-led Justice Dept. dropped its civil rights case against him in 2019.
According to The New York Times, that city’s famed police department had banned chokeholds several decades before Pantaleo used it on Garner.
Regarding the use of “no-knock” warrants, Sutton says they are used only when a law enforcement agency finds itself in a highly-dangerous situation in which a quick and unannounced entry is necessary. That would certainly be the case for the U.S. Marshals Service whose deputies search for fugitives. The agency says it averages 310 arrests on a daily basis.
“If you allow an armed, dangerous suspect warning that you're about to come break into their door,” Sutton explains, “they're going to be prepared for you and they're going to kill you.”
What the U.S. Justice Dept. is doing, the former police officer adds, puts agents in danger for left-wing “optics” and not public safety.