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Proposed legislation would criminalize harmful use of chokeholds by officers

 “We cannot leave this up to cities and individual departments anymore. The state must act,” state Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan said.
Michele Lepore-Hagan 11252019
State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan of Youngstown (Photo courtesy of ohiohouse.gov)

COLUMBUS — State Reps. Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown, and Tavia Galonski, D-Akron, filed legislation June 26 that will criminalize the harmful use of chokeholds by police officers or peace officers in Ohio.

“Chokeholds can cause serious injury or even death. The NYPD ban on chokeholds didn’t prevent the death of Eric Garner,” Lepore-Hagan said in a news release. “We cannot leave this up to cities and individual departments anymore. The state must act. We need greater law enforcement accountability in Ohio.”

Modeled after the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act, which passed the New York State Assembly in June 2020 with bipartisan support, this legislation bans any law enforcement officer from knowingly causing serious physical harm by using pressure to the throat or neck, or by blocking the nose or mouth. A violation makes the law enforcement officer guilty of strangulation and subject to a felony of the third degree.

“A chokehold is a maneuver which has shown time and time again to have lethal consequences. All too often it has become a death sentence for citizens who have not even received due process of law,” Galonski said. “Law enforcement professionals are able to restrain a suspect without using potentially lethal means. That is how we ensure proper service, protection and due process of law.”

Filed with 22 joint sponsors, all from the Ohio House Democratic Caucus, the legislation will receive an official bill number during the next nonvoting legislative session.



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