Justice Department restricts use of chokeholds, no-knock warrant by Feds


  • The Justice Department announced restrictions on when federal law enforcement officers can use chokeholds and “no-knock” entries, but don’t ban them.
  • The new policies prohibit the use of chokeholds and “carotid restraints” unless deadly force is needed.
  • The department also limits the use of “no-knock” entries in serving warrants following the deaths of unarmed Black men and women.

The Justice Department on Tuesday announced new restrictions on chokeholds and no-knock entries but is not banning the controversial law enforcement tactics.

The department’s law enforcement components, including the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Marshals Service, are prohibited from using the tactics unless they could save them from death or serious injury.

The policy bars “chokeholds” and “carotid restraints” by law enforcement agents unless they are in a situation that calls for deadly force, meaning “the officer has a reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person.”

The policy also limits the use of “no-knock” entries in connection with the execution of a warrant to situations where an agent “has reasonable grounds to believe that knocking and announcing the agent’s presence would create an imminent threat of physical violence to the agent and/or another person.”

That standard is stricter than what is permitted by law, the Justice Department said.

“Building trust and confidence between law enforcement and the public we serve is central to our mission at the Justice Department,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

Garland added the new limitations combined with the “recent expansion of body cameras to DOJ’s federal agents, are among the important steps the department is taking to improve law enforcement safety and accountability.”

The 2014 death of Eric Garner intensified the issue over chokeholds. Garner died after NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a chokehold and helped compress his chest against the ground while arresting him on charges of selling loose cigarettes. Pantaleo has been fired afterward but was not criminally charged.

Debates also increased on no-knock entries after Breonna Taylor was fatally shot while sleeping in her Kentucky home during a 2020 botched police raid.

By law, officers are required to knock and announce their presence when serving a warrant on a private residence.

But the Supreme Court maintained that “knock and announce” is not required when doing so would result in the threat of physical violence, destruction of evidence, or be futile.

“Because of the risk posed to both law enforcement and civilians during the execution of ‘no knock’ warrants, it is important that this authority be exercised only in the most compelling circumstances,” the new policy memo states.

Source: NBC News

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