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Chokeholds banned by new Utah law

Gov. Gary Herbert addresses reporters. (PHOTO: KSL TV via Facebook)

SALT LAKE CITY — Among the 11 bills signed into law on Thursday by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert was H.B. 5007 prohibiting police chokeholds. 

Passed during a special session of the Utah Legislature just one week ago, the bill “prohibits training peace officers in the use of chokehold or restraints that may cause unconsciousness and prohibits a peace officer’s use of such a restraint.”

The bill also prohibits offering training to peace officers in the use of a chokehold and other methods “that may impede breathing or blood circulation and cause unconsciousness.”

Further, the bill specifically prohibits Utah police from using a “knee on the neck” method of restraint. It was this type of restraint which viral video shows was used against George Floyd on May 25th in Minneapolis. 

RELATED READING:  Utah lawmakers vote to ban knee-to-neck chokeholds

An official autopsy classified Floyd’s death as a homicide attributed to cardiopulmonary arrest caused by restraint. Floyd’s death lead to weeks-long demonstrations, in the United States, and across the globe, against what protesters described as police brutality. 

One week before the special session of the Utah Legislature, the Salt Lake City Police Department formalized its policy manual. It put into writing that its officers were prohibited from using a chokehold to intentionally stop or make breathing difficult.

George Floyd’s death has been linked to national and global protests against the police killings of black men and women. Statues and monuments linked to slave-owning in the United States and Great Britain have been taken down.

The four police officers involved in the arrest of George Floyd were arrested. One of them, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with second-degree murder.