New York lawmakers approve ban on police chokeholds

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Police chokeholds are one step closer to becoming illegal in New York State.

The New York Senate and State Assembly overwhelmingly passed the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act on Monday by a vote of 140 to 3.

The bill would criminalize the harmful use of a chokehold by a police officer -- with a maximum sentence of 15 years.

"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."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has promised to sign the bill.

The legislation is named after Eric Garner, who like George Floyd, died at the hands of police during an arrest while he said "I can't breathe."

"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. His words now speak from the grave as we deal with the police killing of George Floyd under nearly identical circumstances," said Assemblymember Walter Mosley. "Hundreds of unarmed black men and women have been killed at the hands of police officers before and between these two tragedies. In 2015 I introduced this bill to outlaw chokeholds statewide, and I am proud to see it taken up today as we pass legislation to reform our criminal justice system. This is an important step forward, but it will not be the last. We must work to change the way that police officers interact with communities of color, or we will continue to see these killings occur."

After Garner's death, NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo was fired from his job but was never criminally prosecuted.

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