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New York lawmakers pass anti-chokehold bill named for Eric Garner

The New York State Assembly on Monday passed the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act. The act passed both houses of the New York State Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo has indicated he will sign it into law.

Named for Eric Garner, who was killed in 2014 after being placed in a chokehold by an NYPD officer, the bill criminalizes the use of chokeholds that result in injury or death. The use of chokeholds by the NYPD had already been banned in 1993.

"Almost six years ago, we heard Eric Garner tell police 'I can't breathe' as he was put into a chokehold by an NYPD officer," Assemblymember Walter T. Mosley, the sponsor of the bill, said in a statement Monday. "His words now speak from the grave as we deal with the police killing of George Floyd under nearly identical circumstances."

The bill would make it so that a police officer who injures or kills somebody through the use of "a chokehold or similar restraint" can be charged with a class C felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

New York Lawmakers, Al Sharpton, And Mother Of Eric Garner Call For Ban On Police Chokehold
Gwen Carr, racial justice activist and mother of Eric Garner, looks on at a press conference calling for a ban on police chokeholds in Foley Square on June 2, 2020 in New York City. Scott Heins / Getty Images

"I have worked with my Assembly colleagues to reform our state's broken criminal justice system. Holding law enforcement officers accountable for their actions is a necessary part of that," Speaker Carl Heastie said. "The NYPD ban on chokeholds was not enough to protect Eric Garner, and it is not enough today. This legislation will put an end to the practice across the state."

According to a statement released by the New York State Assembly, 996 people have reported being put in chokeholds by NYPD officers since Garner's death.

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