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Ban on Police Choke Holds Moves Forward in California Senate

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Demonstrators marched on Broadway in Oakland on May 29, 2020, during a protest over the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Assembly Bill 1196, which would ban law enforcement in California from using choke holds or similar restraining methods that pose a substantial risk of asphyxiation when detaining people, passed the state Senate Public Safety Committee Friday.

The legislation follows sustained national outcry over the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

State Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, who voted in favor of the bill, said law enforcement officers frequently use choke holds and similar restraints even when they have other options available.

"This is a technique that has been used over and over again on communities of color when there was no immediate threat or eminent threat to law enforcement," Bradford said.

Many cities in California, including San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, already have similar bans in place. This bill would create a uniform policy statewide.


The bill would also ban placing people in positions that could restrict their airways, such as putting weight on a person's back or neck for a prolonged period of time.

Assemblyman Mike Gipson, D-Carson, who authored the legislation, said choke holds and similar techniques are risky and can easily go wrong.

"Even a good officer using this correctly can also inflict serious injury on someone," Gipson said. "In the hands of a bad apple, this is a weapon."

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The Senate Public Safety Committee also passed Friday a bill addressing compensation for victims of police violence.

AB 767 would allow survivors of police brutality and family members of those killed by police to receive reimbursement from the California Victim Compensation Board.

“AB 767 is California’s opportunity to demonstrate that we value the lives and experiences of all victims and particularly Black and brown victims of police violence,” said Assemblyman Tim Grayson, lead author of the bill.

Grayson’s district includes the city of Vallejo, where there have been a number of police shootings, including that of Sean Monterrosa, who was killed by an officer on June 2.

If ultimately approved by the Senate, both bills must return to the Assembly for a concurrence vote. They each need a two-thirds vote in both houses to be sent to the governor, and if signed, each bill would take effect immediately.

KQED's Julie Chang and Monica Lam contributed to this story.

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