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Some AZ police agencies banned chokeholds after Floyd's death

Posted at 7:00 PM, Mar 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-30 16:57:32-04

PHOENIX — Since George Floyd's death, several Arizona police agencies have reviewed and changed their policies on restraining people by the neck.

Banning chokeholds and strangleholds was one of the "8 can't wait" police reforms that protesters pushed nationwide last summer.

Attorney Benjamin Taylor told ABC15 he's had numerous cases where police used chokeholds, carotid control techniques, and similar neck restraints on his clients. He said some of the defendants had lasting injuries.

"There are other ways to restrain the person," Taylor said. "They could use a taser. I mean, they could hold them by their legs or their arms. You don’t have to go around a person's neck to restrain a person."

ABC15 reached out to several Valley police agencies about their current policies.

Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, and Gilbert police departments have banned neck restraints entirely. The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, Glendale Police Department, and Goodyear Police Department only allow neck holds in deadly force situations. Chandler's police policy is less strict and still considers the restraints as an intermediate use of force.

Democrats in Congress are trying to force change. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would deny certain grants to police agencies that don't entirely ban chokeholds, carotid control techniques, and similar restraints. The bill has passed the U.S. House and has moved to the Senate for consideration.

In Arizona, one legislator is trying to preserve the option of neck restraints. State Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, introduced the bill that would ban local governments from adopting a policy, rule, or directive that prohibits officers from using physical force when the use is allowed by law.

"They [city councils] have no business doing that, and it should not be political," Kavanagh said "We just need to leave this to the professionals who we’ve chosen."

Kavanagh's bill has yet to be heard in committee.