Support Senate Bill 3895 - Eric Garner Excessive Force Prevention Act

To the United States Congress and to the President of the United States,

There is no question that the use of choke-hold restraint methods, and the like, used by law enforcement officers can lead to serious bodily harm or death of the subject that is being restrained. In Minneapolis Minnesota alone, police rendered forty-four (44) people unconscious within the last five years by the use of neck restraints. One can only imagine what the number has been nationwide over the last few decades and how many have died while being restrained in such a manner without the benefit of the outcry we have seen for Eric Garner and George Floyd. We have seen such outcry because both men were pleading for their lives and those pleas fell on deaf ears. Eric Garner said over and over that he couldn’t breathe and George Floyd was tortured to death over eight minutes while being humiliated, begging for his life, calling for his mother, and urinating on himself.

Although there are many states that have policies in place in which law enforcement officers are banned from using choke-holds and other restraint maneuvers that can lead to asphyxiation, it has become quite apparent that policy bans are not enough because there is not enough consequence that comes along with violating a ban. A police officer might be suspended for a little while or at most even fired for violating a ban; but neither compares to going to prison. Prison is an effectual deterrent from using restraint techniques that can cause asphyxiation and death, while obviously, breaking a policy ban isn’t.

It is therefore imperative that a bill is passed that makes the use of asphyxiation restraints by law enforcement a federal crime. This is the only way to stop this kind of reckless and unnecessary use of deadly force. When there is no imminent risk of bodily harm or death or when such risk has been neutralized, police officers have no more legal authority to kill a subject (intentionally or unintentionally) as does a lynch mob.

With this said, as a citizen of these United States of America, I humbly but steadfastly implore you to support and pass Senator Kristin Gillibrand’s Senate Bill 3895, entitled, The Eric Garner Excessive Force Prevention Act (which she introduced to Congress on June 4, 2020 as a re-write of an initial bill on the matter introduced earlier in September of 2019 by Representative Hakeem Jeffries) as an amendment to Section 242 of title 18 of the United States Code. The Bill reads,

“Amendment.—Section 242 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following: “For the purposes of this section, the application of any pressure to the throat or windpipe, the use of maneuvers that restrict blood or oxygen flow to the brain, or the use of carotid artery restraints which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air is a deprivation of a right, privilege, or immunity and is a punishment, pain, or penalty.”

Updated in May of 2020, TITLE 18, U.S.C., SECTION 242 reads, “Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, ... shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.”

Please note that I don’t agree with the death penalty but this is how the section reads and so I must copy it as is, but my hope is that this section of the code will one day eventually be amended or updated to exclude capital punishment.

Thank you very much for your attention to this matter and hopefully…for your support.

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