New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that he would veto a proposed law criminalizing the use of chokeholds by police.
The law, which was introduced to the City Council last November, would makechokeholds a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison, a $2,500 fine, or both.
De Blasio expressed reservations about the bill last year, but on Tuesday, he said he’d veto it in its current form, according to the New York Post.
“The mayor would veto the chokehold bill as it is currently drafted were it to reach his desk,” spokesman Phil Walzak told the Post. The paper quoted an unnamed source at City Hall that said de Blasio “believes NYPD internal policy remains the best way to monitor and regulate.”
“He has said he wants to make sure that this technique is available to cops in a life-and-death situation,” Councilman Rory Lancman, who introduced the chokehold bill to the City Council, added. “I hope that we can have a dialogue with the mayor and other stakeholders so that by the time the bill reaches his desk, it will be something we can both support.”
Although the controversial tactic has been banned by the NYPD for more than 20 years, reports of its use as a percentage of force complaints is on the rise.
Advocates outraged by the death of Eric Garner are pushing for a law making the use of chokeholds a crime. Garner died last year after he appeared to be put in a chokehold by NYPD Daniel Pantaleo. A grand jury did not indict the officer in Garner’s death, sparking massive protests.
Police unions have accused the mayor of not supporting them in the wake of those protests. Those claims were exacerbated after two uniformed police officers were murdered in broad daylight in December.
Councilman Jumaane Williams, who supports the chokehold bill, told WPIX that he thinks the mayor is concerned that the law would put cops in harm’s way.
“I know there [have] been concerns in the past about police officers being able to defend themselves if their life is in jeopardy,” Williams told the station. “But the way the bill is crafted, it doesn’t change the penal code which allows a police officer to do what they need to do to protect themselves if their life is in danger… I think it’s very premature to be talking about veto.”