The New York Police Department suspended an officer without pay after a video appears to show him using a chokehold to detain a Black man Sunday afternoon. The department later released the body camera footage and NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said there will be a full investigation into the incident. The video surfaced only days after the New York City Council approved a bill banning chokeholds and mandating officers to be charged with a misdemeanor for using the technique.
The incident happened Sunday morning at around 8:45 a.m. on the Rockaway Beach boardwalk in Queens, law enforcement sources told NBC New York. Officers were called to the scene when three men were allegedly harassing people and throwing things. Officers approached the three men, one of whom appeared to be carrying a "small bag." The officers thought he would throw the bag, so they attempted to arrest the man, who suffered minor injuries.
In the video that surfaced on social media, four officers are seen surrounding the man. One officer wrapped his arm around the man's neck. Two people are heard telling the officers to get off the man. "He's choking him! Let go!" one person is heard yelling.
"Accountability in policing is essential. After a swift investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau, a police officer involved in a disturbing apparent chokehold incident in Queens has been suspended without pay," Shea tweeted Sunday evening, along with a link to the body camera footage. Shea said there is a "full investigation" underway and the department is "committed to transparency." The name of the suspended officer was not released.
The NYPD banned chokeholds in November 1993, according to The Atlantic. However, there continued to be cases of officers using chokeholds. In July 2014, Eric Garner was killed when Daniel Pantaleo used the technique to arrest Garner in Staten Island for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. Garner complained "I can't breathe" while in custody, and the phrase has become one of the Black Lives Matter movement's rallying cries. The new bill banning chokeholds criminalizes the technique and is named after Garner. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also signed a state law requiring officers to be criminally charged if using the chokehold results in injury or death.
Black Lives Matter supporters have been protesting in all 50 states and around the world since George Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. Floyd died after Derek Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes, even after Floyd lost consciousness. Chauvin was fired and charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. Earlier this month, the Minneapolis city council voted to work on a new community-led public safety system, but the mayor does not support efforts to disband the police department there.