Mike A. Gipson and Miguel Santiago

Mike A. Gipson and Miguel Santiago

For years, law enforcement departments across the country have used the controversial carotid artery restraint technique to forcibly subdue and detain suspects, despite its troubled history. 

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, California Assembly Member Mike A. Gipson has introduced AB 1196, which would make it illegal for police officers to continue to employ this tactic.

“This bill is important because it calls for the elimination of carotid artery restraint by law enforcement, a practice that is not meant to be fatal but has proven fatal far too many times,” said Assembly Member Miguel Santiago, who has joined Gipson and other state leaders in announcing the legislation. 

“Since the introduction of this bill, we’ve seen departments across the country abandon this use of restraint. Frankly, it is long overdue. We need to codify this prohibition in state law so that no one dies from a chokehold. We know that carotid artery restraint is prone to misapplication, leading to fatal and permanently damaging consequences, and we know the deadliness of this restraint. We need to ban it now.” 

The carotid artery restraint technique involves applying pressure on the sides of another person’s neck to constrict airflow. Unfortunately, this application can result in severe injury or even death for the restrained subject. AB 1196 is awaiting hearing before the California State Senate.

“The death of George Floyd is an all-too-vivid example of systemic racism,” Santiago said. “We have seen it over and over again in just these last weeks with the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. This moment demands more from us. We need to be more aggressive and tear up the racist roots that are embedded in our communities and institutions.”

Last year, Santiago and other state leaders worked on AB 392 to reform police use of force. This year, they are working on a collection of bills that aim to create more accountability around discrimination, target violence and to uplift marginalized communities. 

“This year we are pushing for an independent review unit to investigate officer-involved shootings and to establish a task force to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans,” Santiago said. “These are just a few examples of the kind of justice-driven work we are trying to accomplish this year and hope to continue.”