Two Ohio Democrats introduced a bill Friday to criminalize the use of chokeholds by law enforcement officers in Ohio.
“Chokeholds can cause serious injury or even death. The NYPD ban on chokeholds didn’t prevent the death of Eric Garner. We cannot leave this up to cities and individual departments any more. The state must act. We need greater law enforcement accountability in Ohio,” said Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown), who introduced the bill with Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron).
According to a press release, the bill is modeled after New York’s Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act and would ban 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.”
Law enforcement officers who violate the law would be guilty of strangulation and subject to third-degree felony charges.
“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,” said Galonski. “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.”
The bill was introduced with 22 Democratic co-sponsors, but has yet to receive an official bill number since the Ohio Legislature isn’t in session. House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) wants Republican leaders to call the chamber back into session to address several unresolved issues, including police reform.
“At a time when Ohio needs leaders most, Republicans decided to skip town for a summer break. We’re facing unprecedented health and economic crises, massive unemployment, a budget shortfall, and unanswered calls for racial justice. A lot of these ideas, especially for police reform – they’re not new. We need to get to work to get them passed,” Sykes said in a statement. “We’re urging Republican leaders to call us back into session so we can do the job taxpayers sent us here to do. These crises aren’t taking a recess and neither should we.”
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