US Justice Dept scales back use of chokeholds and no-knock warrants

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – The US Justice Department on Tuesday (Sept 14) said it was curtailing the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies from using chokeholds to restrain suspects or executing no-knock warrants at peoples’ homes before entering.

“Building trust and confidence between law enforcement and the public we serve is central to our mission at the Justice Department,” said Attorney-General Merrick Garland.

“The limitations implemented today on the use of ‘chokeholds’, ‘carotid restraints’ and ‘no-knock’ warrants, combined with our recent expansion of body-worn cameras to DOJ’s federal agents, are among the important steps the department is taking to improve law enforcement safety and accountability.”

Police tactics involving the use of chokeholds or “carotid restraints” and no-knock warrants have both become flash points across the country amid calls for reforms to address systematic racism in policing against the Black community.

In June, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22-1/2 years in prison, for killing George Floyd by kneeling on his neck.

The murder was caught on video, as Floyd repeatedly cried out “I can’t breathe”.

In Louisville, Kentucky, police last year shot and killed Breonna Taylor in a botched raid after executing a no-knock warrant. Taylor, a Black woman, was an emergency medical technician.

Her boyfriend, who was with her when police burst into the home, fired once at what he said he believed were intruders. Three police officers responded with 32 shots, six of which struck Taylor, killing her.

Under the department’s new policy, chokeholds will be prohibited by federal law enforcement unless deadly force is authorised.

The use of no-knock warrants will also be scaled back, and in cases where they are needed, federal agents will be required to seek approval from senior department officials before using the tactic.

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