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Las Vegas Police Change Use-of-Force Policy Following Death of Unarmed Black Man Who Was Put in Choke Hold

In this May 17, 2017, file photo, Las Vegas Police Undersheriff Kevin McMahill speaks during a news conference in Las Vegas. Police officers can no longer routinely use neck restraints to render combative people unconscious, but can still use the department-approved technique in a life-or-death struggle. (John Locher/AP Images)
In this May 17, 2017, file photo, Las Vegas Police Undersheriff Kevin McMahill speaks during a news conference in Las Vegas. Police officers can no longer routinely use neck restraints to render combative people unconscious, but can still use the department-approved technique in a life-or-death struggle. (John Locher/AP Images)

Las Vegas police have decided to put an end to the routine use of neck restraints, revamping their use-of-force policies following the death of an unarmed black man who had been put in the controversial restraint.

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According to the Associated Press, the technique, which renders people unconscious and is taught in the department, has been used some 632 times over the past decade. However, it was the death of Tashii Brown back in May that brought the policy under intense scrutiny.

Despite the relevance of Brown’s case, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo referenced the move as part of ongoing efforts to improve police tactics, not a result of Brown’s death or the lawsuits or charges that the officer involved faces.

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“It would be ethically irresponsible not to constantly evaluate and upgrade when possible,” Lombardo said.

The revised use-of-force policy, which went into effect earlier this month on Sept. 15, still allows the officers to use the department-taught technique, but its classification has been upgraded from “low-level use of force” to “intermediate” or “lethal” force, meaning that officers will now have to prove to their superiors that whoever the choke hold was used on intended to hurt the officers or others.

Brown—who also went by the name Tashii Farmer—died after Officer Kenneth Lopera used what authorities called an unapproved choke hold to “subdue” him.

Brown, who was seen sweating and looking panicked in footage prior to his death, took off on foot, leading to a chase through the Venetian Las Vegas resort and casino.

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Lopera eventually caught up with Brown outside the hotel and, allegedly thinking that Brown was going to attempt to carjack a vehicle, grabbed his Taser, deploying the weapon and shocking Brown multiple times even as Brown pleaded with the officer. In total, Lopera shocked Brown with the Taser seven times.

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The two men then reportedly scuffled as Lopera attempted to cuff Brown. Lopera was also seen on the video punching Brown in the head and neck multiple times as Venetian security guards joined in the efforts to restrain him.

Ultimately, Lopera put Brown in a hold that he was heard describing as a “rear naked choke.” Officers soon realized that Brown was not breathing and started chest compressions, but it was too late. Brown was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

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A coroner determined the cause of death to be asphyxiation due to the neck restraint.

Lopera is facing charges of involuntary manslaughter and oppression under color of authority in the death.

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Officials readily acknowledged that Lopera violated department policies by using his stun gun multiple times, repeatedly punching Brown and then restraining him for more than a minute.

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Brown’s mother, Trinita Farmer, argued that police should never be given the leeway to choke someone, AP notes.

“I don’t think police should have their hands around your neck,” Farmer said. “They have guns. Why should you choke somebody to death?”

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Andre Lagomarsino, a lawyer representing Farmer, said that a federal wrongful death lawsuit is in the works.

Read more at Fox News.

News Editor at The Root, animation nerd, soca junkie, yogi

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DISCUSSION

adrognas
The Bullshit is too Damn High!

So having lived in Vegas for many years (though not there currently or hopefully ever again) I hope this is a step in the right direction it depends on the result of the case against the officer who committed this crime. If they convict him then the justifying use of a choke hold actually means something. If he gets off because he was ‘scared for his life,’ then changing the classification of the choke hold is meaningless. LVMPD usually, in the last couple of decades, tries to improve its image when stuff like this happens but we will see if they continue to do so in the current political climate or if the continue to regress to the mean of bullshit that seems to be the police in most of the USA at the moment.